Moments after President Donald Trump concluded his seven-minute broadcast Friday announcing the start of precision airstrikes on Syrian government facilities associated with the development of chemical weapons, loud explosions shook Damascus.
A global chemical warfare watchdog group says its fact-finding mission to Syria will go ahead even after the US -led airstrikes.
Read the rest of the story here. He says a "combined operation" with France and the United Kingdom is underway. The organization has previously determined that chemical weapons have been used in Syria.
The statement comes after Iran, a strong ally of Syria, this week threatened to respond to an airstrike on a Syrian military base that the Syrian government, Russian Federation and Iran blamed on Israel.
Tensions on Israel's northern border have been rising in recent months as Israel fears that Iran is entrenching itself deeper into war-torn Syria with its presence on Israel's borders growing in strength.
United States blames Syria government for gas attack, mulls aggressive strike
Putin and Macron instructed their foreign and defense ministers to maintain close contact to "de-escalate the situation", the Kremlin said.
The strikes were the biggest intervention by Western powers against Assad in the country's seven-year-old civil war and pitted the United States and its allies against Russian Federation, which itself intervened in the war in 2015 to back Assad. "These are not the actions of a man; they are crimes of a monster instead", Trump said. Officials also said the strike was larger than a similar attack on the Assad regime launched a year ago.
That's according to a source familiar with the president's plans, who was not authorized to speak publicly.
"Incontrovertibly, the US and its allies are responsible and should be held accountable for the consequences of this adventurism both in the region and beyond", it said. Shortly thereafter, the Israeli Air Force retaliated by launching a large-scale attack near Damascus, destroying over 10 Iranian and Syrian targets.
The ministers meet on Monday to discuss Syria amid the prospect of Western military action after a suspected chemical attack by the government on April 7.
Russian Federation has warned the West not to make any "dangerous" moves against its ally Assad's regime.
The U.S. has said the strikes targeted a research center in greater Damascus, a chemical weapons storage facility and another storage facility and command center, both in Homs.