Defense Secretary James Mattis called the strikes a “one time shot” and said that they were aimed at Syrian government’s chemical weapons infrastructure.
“Clearly, the Assad regime did not get the message last year,” Mattis said Friday evening from the Pentagon.
“Together we have sent a clear message to Assad and his murderous lieutenants that they should not perpetrate another chemical weapons attack for which they will be held accountable.”
Speaking alongside Mattis, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford named three targets that were struck in the military operation. The first target was the Syrian Scientific Studies and Research Center, a government body responsible for research and development of advanced weapons systems.
“The second target was a chemical weapons storage facility west of Homs, we assess that this was the primary location of Syrian sarin and precursor production equipment,” Dunford said.
The last target was a chemical weapons storage facility as well as a military command post.
And while Dunford would not describe the military assets that were deployed, he added that, “this wave of air strikes is over.”
Neither Mattis or Dunford addressed possible Russian or Syrian retaliation to the U.S.-led strikes.
The coordinated strikes came on the heels of an alleged chemical weapons attack believed to be carried out by forces aligned with the Assad regime in Douma, a town that was held by Syrian rebels.
The Assad regime has denied responsibility for the April 7 attack, and has since repositioned a significant amount of air assets to Russian-controlled airfields in hopes that Washington would be reluctant to strike there.
“I am confident the Syrian regime conducted a chemical attack on innocent people in this last week,” Mattis said, noting that the U.S. government had enough intelligence to carry out the strike.
Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin called for a meeting of the U.N. Security Council to discuss what Moscow decried as an unjustified attack on a sovereign state. Diplomats said the meeting would take place in New York around noon.
Syrian state media called the attack a “flagrant violation of international law.” Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called it a crime, and branded Western leaders as criminals.
–Reuters contributed to this report.