A new report says Syrian military officials knew the U.S. was going to bomb the Shayrat air base, so they evacuated personnel and equipment (video below).
According to ABC News, an eyewitness saw the evacuation process before the U.S. fired at least 59 Tomahawk missiles, which damaged air traffic control buildings, towers, fortified bunkers and major runways.
The air base was struck because it is believed that planes flying from the base dropped chemical weapons on a Syrian town in Idlib province on April 4, killing 86 Syrian men, women and children in the gas attack.
Graphic videos of children affected by the attack went viral on social media, and caused worldwide outrage. The Turkish Health Ministry said that autopsies showed sarin nerve gas had been used.
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The U.S. attack lasted 35 minutes, and shook nearby homes so hard that people reportedly moved away from their windows. There are no reports yet of civilian casualties.
According to local residents, the base was used by the Russian military in early 2016, but these days it is run by Syrian and Iranian military officials.
President Donald Trump, who told former President Barack Obama for years not to attack Syria via Twitter, justified his attack from his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida:
There can be no dispute that Syria used banned chemical weapons, violated its obligations under the chemical weapons convention and ignored the urging of the U.N. Security Council. Years of previous attempts at changing Assad's behavior have all failed and failed very dramatically.
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Trump did not mention that his administration gave Russia notification that the military strike was going to happen.
Pentagon spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis broke that news, notes CNBC: "Russian forces were notified in advance of the strike using the established deconfliction line. U.S. military planners took precautions to minimize risk to Russian or Syrian personnel located at the airfield."
An unidentified U.S. defense official told Fox News that a Russian warship traveled from the Black Sea into the eastern Mediterranean Sea on April 7, in the direction of the U.S. Navy destroyers that launched the attack on Syria.
The Russian warship, Admiral Grigorovich RFS-494, is reportedly armed with advanced cruise missiles.
One of the U.S. Navy destroyers was heading to an unidentified location to rearm.
The Russian news agency TASS cited an unidentified military-diplomatic source as saying: "The Russian ship armed with cruise missiles Kalibr will visit the logistics base in Tartus, Syria."
Sources: ABC News, CNBC, Fox News / Photo credit: U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Diana Quinlan/Wikimedia Commons