The United States is "locked and loaded" if Syria uses chemical weapons again, Ambassador Nikki Haley warned on Saturday, as the UN Security Council convened for an urgent session to discuss the joint military intervention in Syria.
The targets included a scientific research facility near Damascus, a chemical weapons storage facility west of the city of Homs, and a third location near Homs that contained both a command post and a chemical weapons equipment storage facility, the U.S. military said.
The U.S. strike was not created to "depose" Assad or draw the U.S. into the Syrian civil war, Dana White, the Pentagon spokeswoman said Saturday. "We met our objectives".
The three governments noted dozens previous, smaller-scale chlorine and other chemical weapons attacks over the course of the past year, since President Donald Trump first ordered airstrikes against Syria last April.
No military measures were immediately announced, but in a clear warning to the USA and its allies, Col. Gen. Sergei Rudskoi of the Russian military's General Staff said Moscow could boost Syria's Soviet-era air defence assets with batteries of state-of-the-art S-300 missiles.
US officials said they gave Russian Federation no specific warnings of the attacks or the targets, but used the usual hotline with Moscow's military to ensure the airspace was clear.
Merkel had said earlier this week that Germany wouldn't join allied military action against Syrian government forces.
Defense officials from the countries involved in the attack gave differing accounts of how much warning was given to the Russians, Syria's powerful ally. But, she said, "We can not allow such grievous violations of worldwide law".
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Rather, the Syria strikes, committed to without a parliamentary vote, are meant to show that the worldwide community will not tolerate the use of chemical weapons, she claimed.
"The chemical fabrications, which did not serve the terrorists and their sponsors in Aleppo and Eastern Ghouta, will not serve them today either, as the Syrian state is determined to end terrorism in every square inch of Syrian territory", read a statement by the Syrian government.
A White House representative said that the strike was a "once off" attack.
Russian Federation said they did little damage and that most of the cruise missiles targeting Syrian sites had been intercepted by Syrian air defenses, including all of those that were bound for the site from which last week's alleged chemical attack originated. He criticized the USA and its allies for launching the strike without waiting for inspectors from the global chemical weapons watchdog to visit the area.
"Clearly the Assad regime did not get the message past year".
The sites were chosen to minimize civilian loss of life and possible release of chemical agents, the Pentagon officials said.
And the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based war monitor, said the targeted sites had been evacuated before the missiles struck before dawn on Saturday.
"The Russian disinformation campaign has already begun".
Some supporters of the anti-Assad opposition said they were disappointed that the strikes had been limited.
Within a week of last year's strikes, Syrian media broadcast photographs showing that the base was operative again. Just weeks ago, Trump said he wanted to end US involvement in Syria and bring American troops home to focus on the homeland.