As news of the US missile strikes continues to trickle in from Syria, a briefing in the Pentagon by US Defense Secretary General Mattis and by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Dunford has confirmed the limited extent of today’s missile strike on Syria.
The strike was referred to as a “one time shot” – supposedly to deter the Syrian government from launching further chemical weapons attacks – with three targets hit.
General Dunford says these were (1) a science research facility in the greater Damascus area; (2) a storage facility west of Homs where Dunford says the US believes precursor chemicals and sarin are stored; and (3) an alleged chemical storage depot and “important command post” also in the Damascus area.
Mattis and Dunford both said that “great efforts” were made to avoid hitting “foreign” (ie. Russian and Iranian) troops.
Reports from Syria suggest that there may actually have been more targets, and that the Syrian air defence forces have successfully shot down some of the cruise missiles which were launched. However reports are still coming in and the full picture is not yet clear.
I would at this point add that all the facilities mentioned by Mattis and Dunford – first and foremost the scientific institute in Damascus – have been talked about as likely targets for several days in open sources.
Presumably, with everyone knowing that the strikes were coming, the personnel of these facilities and much of their equipment would have been evacuated and redeployed several days ago.