Updated: 07/04/17 : 06:07:43
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World :: US carries out missile attack on Syrian air base

The US has carried out a missile attack against an air base in Syria in response to a suspected chemical weapons attack on a rebel-held town.

The Pentagon said 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles were fired at 4:40am Syrian time (1:40am Irish Time / GMT) from destroyers in the eastern Mediterranean.

In a televised address, President Donald Trump said the base was the launch point for the chemical attack.

He called on "all civilised nations" to help end the conflict in Syria.

Dozens of civilians, including many children, died in the suspected nerve gas attack on Tuesday in the town of Khan Sheikhoun in Idlib province.

Speaking from his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida, Mr Trump branded Syrian President Bashar al-Assad a "dictator" who had "launched a horrible chemical weapons attack on innocent civilians".

Mr Trump said he had acted in America's "vital national security interest" to prevent the use of chemical weapons.

"Tonight I call on all civilised nations to join us in seeking to end this slaughter and bloodshed in Syria and also to end terrorism of all kinds and all types," he said.

The UK government called the strike "an appropriate response to the barbaric chemical weapons attack".

The Pentagon said the Russian military, which is supporting the Syrian government, had been informed ahead of the US attack.

In a statement it said missiles fired from Navy destroyers USS Porter and USS Ross had targeted aircraft, aircraft shelters, storage areas, ammunition supply bunkers, air defence systems, and radars at Shayrat airfield in western Homs province.

The Pentagon added that the strike was intended "to deter the regime from using chemical weapons again".

It did not give details of damage or casualties but the governor of Homs province said there had been deaths and parts of the base were on fire.

"It will take some time to determine the extent of the damage," Talal Barazi told AFP news agency.

A White House spokesman said the site targeted by the cruise missiles "was directly linked to the horrific chemical weapons attack".

"We assess with a high degree of confidence that the chemical weapons attack earlier this week was launched from this site by air assets under the command of the Assad regime," the official said.

"We also assess, with a similar degree of confidence, that the Assad regime used a chemical nerve agent consistent with Sarin in these attacks."

A statement on Syrian state TV said "American aggression" had targeted a Syrian military base with "a number of missiles" but gave no further details.