Washington DC, Apr 6 (EFE).- The United States warned Russian military forces that it would attack the Shayrat airfield near the Syrian city of Homs before launching 59 Tomahawk missiles on Thursday, the Pentagon said.
“Russian forces were notified in advance of the strike using the established deconfliction line,” Pentagon spokesperson Jeff Davis said in a statement.
The airbase targeted in the US strike was allegedly used by Bashar al-Assad’s government to launch a deadly chemical weapons attack on civilians on Tuesday.
Davis said the US’ action was specifically targeted “to prevent and deter the spread and use of deadly chemical weapons.”
He added that officials “took precautions to minimize risk to Russian or Syrian personnel located at the airfield.”
Although the Pentagon is still assessing the results of the strike, Davis said initial indications suggest it “has severely damaged or destroyed Syrian aircraft and support infrastructure and equipment at Shayrat airfield,” which will reduce the Syrian government’s ability to deliver chemical weapons.
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson explained that Russian forces had been notified in advance, but said there was no direct contact with the Kremlin.
“There were no discussions or prior contacts, nor had there been any since the attack with Moscow,” Tillerson told journalists after President Donald Trump confirmed that he had given the order for the strike.
“They should act as the guarantor that these weapons would no longer be present in Syria. Clearly Russia has failed in its responsibility to deliver on that commitment from 2013,” he added, referring to the agreements aimed at ending the use of such weapons after a similar attack took place in Syria in 2013.
“Either Russia has been complicit or Russia has been simply incompetent in its ability to deliver on its end of that agreement,” he said.
Just moments before the missile strike, Russia warned of the “negative consequences” of unilateral action by the United States against Syria, while the United Nations Security Council is still yet to agree on a resolution.
US military forces launched a total of 59 cruise missiles on Thursday from two of its military vessels in the Mediterranean against the Shayrat airbase near the Syrian city of Homs, as the US government believes it is the place where the aircraft took off to launch the chemical weapons attack Tuesday, killing about 80 civilians.