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Syria: US air strike on Homs airbase killed nine civilians including four children

Retaliatory strike over alleged use of chemical weapons by Syrian regime was a 'warning shot' in which no people were targeted, White House says

Syrian state media has claimed that a US missile attack on a government airbase has killed nine civilians, including four children.

The Syrian army's chief of staff General Ali Ayyoub said earlier on Friday that the overnight cruise missile strike had killed six people and injured seven more.

It was not immediately clear whether the civilian count is in addition to the earlier figures quoted by official Syrian sources, or an updated toll.

Around 60 US Tomahawk cruise missiles hit al Shayrat airbase near Homs in central Syria in the early hours of Friday in retaliation for a suspected chemical weapons attack carried out by the regime on a rebel-held village earlier this week.

At least 80 people died in the incident, in which the Turkish Health Ministry confirmed post mortems showed victims had been exposed to sarin and chlorine gas.

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A local man living near al Shayrat told a BBC producer that the blasts from the strike were "massive" and that he believed many civilians living near the airfield could have been killed.

The Pentagon confirmed that  members of the Russian armed forces present at the base were given advance warning of the impending military action in order to  "minimise risk to Russian or Syrian personnel located at the airfield,”  a statement echoed by the White House, which said that infrastructure rather than people had been the target of the "warning shot" strike.

Trump speech in full

Here is Donald Trump's speech in full:

"On Tuesday, Syria launched a horrific chemical attack on innocent civilians. Using a deadly nerve agent, Assad choked out the lives of hopeless men, women, and children.

It was a slow and brutal death for so many. Even beautiful babies were cruelly murdered in this very barbaric attack. No child of god should ever suffer such horror.

Tonight I ordered a targeted military strike on the air field in Syria from where the chemical attack was launched

It was in the vital national security interest of the US to prevent and deter the use of deadly chemical weapons.

There can be no dispute that Syria used banned chemical weapons, violated its obligations under the chimerical weapons convention and ignored the urging of the UN security council.

Years of previous attempts at changing Assad's behaviour have all failed and failed very dramatically.

As a result, the refugee crisis continues, and the region continues to destablise, threatening the US and its allies.

Tonight I call on all civilised nations in seeking to end the slaughter and bloodshed in Syria and also to end terrorism of all kinds and all types.

We ask for God's wisdom as we face the challenge of our very troubled world. We pray for the lives of the wounded and the souls of those who have passed.

And we hope that as long as America stands for justice, peace and harmony will prevail. Good night and God bless America and the entire world."

Independent News Service

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