SYRIA (CBS) - The U.S. and its European allies launched precision air strikes in Syria early Saturday morning. The mission is in retaliation for last Saturday's suspected chemical attack that killed dozens of Syrian civilians, including children.
U.S., British, and French forces unleashed more than 100 missiles on Syria - targeting and destroying a scientific research center and two suspected chemical weapons storage facilities.
“These strikes were justified - legitimate and proportionate response to Syria using chemical weapons on its own people,” said Dana White, a Pentagon chief spokesperson.
President Trump ordered the military action one week after a suspected chlorine gas attack that killed more than 40 people. Britain says there's proof Syria is responsible, not the rebels because a government helicopter delivered the chemicals inside a barrel bomb.
Pentagon officials called the retaliatory operation, “precise, overwhelming and effective."
“They've lost a lot of equipment, a lot of material, and it's gonna have a significant effect on them, so I think the words cripple and degrade are good accurate words,” said General Frank McKenzie.
The Pentagon rejected Russian claims that many of the missiles were shot down by Syria.
In Damascus, hundreds of Syrians are protesting the U.S. led strikes honking horns in a show of defiance and shouting “we are your men, Bashar.”
America and its allies insist they're not calling for regime change but say Syrian president Bashar al Assad will be held accountable if he continues gassing his people.
Russia and Iran condemned the strikes on Syria and vowed to stand by their ally - warning -- there will be consequences.
Russia called for an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council today to discuss the coalitions' military action.
Last year, the U-S launched cruise missiles after Assad used sarin gas on civilians. The strike was double the size of last year's assault.