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Posted: April 09, 2018

Trump vowing to ‘forcefully’ respond to chemical attack in Syria: 5 things to know

What is a Tomahawk Missile?

By Cox Media Group National Content Desk

DOUMA, Syria —

Update Apr 9, 2018 7:30 PM EDT: President Donald Trump is vowing to “forcefully” respond to the chemical attack in Syria that left at least 40 people dead.

“It will be met and it will be met forcefully,” Trump said.

“We are getting clarity on that, on who was responsible, Trump said at a press availability at the White House late Monday afternoon ahead of a meeting with his military leaders.

“We have a lot of options militarily,” the president said.

(Previous story)

A missile strike on a Syrian air base left at least 14 dead Monday, just days after a suspected chemical attack on Douma, a rebel-held town, killed at least 40 people.

>> What is a Tomahawk cruise missile and what does it do?

Here's what we know so far:

1. President Donald Trump has not ruled out the possibility of U.S. military action in response to Saturday’s suspected chemical attack.

Trump said Monday that that he will decide how to respond within the next "24 to 48 hours.”

“Nothing is off the table,” he said. “We’re talking about humanity, and it can’t be allowed to happen.”

The president took to Twitter on Sunday to blame Syrian President Bashar Assad for the alleged chemical attack. Trump also pointed fingers at Russian President Vladimir Putin, Iran and former U.S. President Barack Obama. 

"Many dead, including women and children, in mindless CHEMICAL attack in Syria," Trump tweeted Sunday morning. "Area of atrocity is in lockdown and encircled by Syrian Army, making it completely inaccessible to outside world. President Putin, Russia and Iran are responsible for backing Animal Assad. Big price to pay. Open area immediately for medical help and verification. Another humanitarian disaster for no reason whatsoever. SICK!"

Trump later added: "If President Obama had crossed his stated Red Line In The Sand, the Syrian disaster would have ended long ago! Animal Assad would have been history!"

>> What is sarin nerve gas?

2. The Syrian and Russian governments denied the claims. According to The New York Times, "state news media in Syria denied that government forces had used chemical weapons and accused the Islamist rebel group that controls Douma, the Army of Islam, of fabricating the videos to solicit international support as defeat loomed."

The Russian government shared that position.

"Information attacks about the use of chlorine or other poisonous substances by the Syrian government troops are continuing. Another such hoax about the chemical attack that supposedly took place in Douma emerged yesterday," the statement said, according to CNN.

"We have warned of such dangerous provocations many times before. The purpose of these false conjectures, which are without any basis, is to shield the terrorists and the irreconcilable radical opposition, which reject a political settlement while trying to justify possible military strikes from outside."

>> Read more trending news 

3. The U.S. said it was not behind the deadly missile strike on Syria's T4 air base. "At this time, the Department of Defense is not conducting air strikes in Syria. However, we continue to closely watch the situation and support the ongoing diplomatic efforts to hold those who use chemical weapons, in Syria and otherwise, accountable," the Pentagon said in a statement, according to CNN

The statement came as Syrian state media said the airstrike was probably "an American aggression," The Associated Press reported. Meanwhile, Russia's Defense Ministry claimed that Israel had fired the missiles.

4. The United Nations Security Council is meeting Monday about the suspected chemical attack. “The Security Council has to come together and demand immediate access for first responders, support an independent investigation into what happened, and hold accountable those responsible for this atrocious act,” Nikki Haley, U.S. ambassador to the U.N., said in a statement.

>> ONE YEAR AGO: US fires more than 50 cruise missiles into Syria

5. The latest developments in Syria come about a year after a chemical attack there reportedly killed at least 80 people in Khan Sheikhun. According to CNN, the U.S. launched dozens of Tomahawk missiles at Syria's Shayrat air base in response to the April 4 attack.

WATCH: Trump Makes Statement on U.S. Missile Attack on Syria


Related

AP

Syria chemical attack, missile strike: 5 things to know

AP

Syria chemical attack, missile strike: 5 things to know

This image released early Sunday, April 8, 2018 by the Syrian Civil Defense White Helmets, shows a child receiving oxygen through respirators following an alleged poison gas attack in the rebel-held town of Douma, near Damascus, Syria. Syrian rescuers and medics said the attack on Douma killed at least 40 people. The Syrian government denied the allegations, which could not be independently verified. The alleged attack in Douma occurred Saturday night amid a resumed offensive by Syrian government forces after the collapse of a truce. (Syrian Civil Defense White Helmets via AP)

What is a Tomahawk cruise missile and what does it do?

Tomahawk missiles are highly accurate weapons. The modern version was first used by the United States in the 1991 Gulf War.

>> Read more trending news

Here’s what you need to know about Tomahawk missiles:

What are they?

Tomahawk missiles are subsonic, jet engine-powered missiles. They fly low, about 100 feet off the ground.

Where are they launched from?

Tomahawks can be launched from many surfaces, but the U.S. generally uses ships or submarines to launch the missiles. 

How much do they cost?

Each missile cost $1.41 million.

Who makes them?

Raytheon Systems Company makes the Tomahawk Block IV.

How fast can they fly?

The missiles travel at 550 miles per hour.

How big are they?

The Tomahawk is a 20-foot-long missile, and weighs 2,900 pounds. It has a wingspan of eight feet,  nine inches. It carries a 1,000-pound-class warhead.

How accurate are they?

According to the Navy, they hit their target about 85 percent of the time. How do they find their target?

The missile uses a system called "Terrain Contour Matching." An altimeter along with an inertia detector direct the Tomahawk along a flight path against a pre-loaded map of the terrain. They are unlike drones as they are not guided by pilots on the ground. According to Raytheon, “The latest variant (Tomahawk Block IV) includes a two-way satellite data-link that enables the missile to be retargeted in flight to preprogrammed, alternate targets. The Block IV design was initiated as both a cost savings and a capability improvement effort.”

Is the United States the only country with cruise missiles?

No. More than 70 nations have cruise missiles.

Sources: The U.S. Navy; Popular Science; Raytheon

What is sarin nerve gas?

A Syrian air base was struck by missiles before dawn on Monday, a little more than 24 hours after an alleged chemical attack near Damascus that the West has blamed on Syrian government forces.

>> Read more trending news

One nerve agent that has been repeatedly used during the Syrian war is sarin gas.

What is sarin?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, sarin is a nerve agent that appears as a clear, colorless liquid and is generally odorless and tasteless. 

What does it do?

Sarin can cause death in minutes after exposure and interferes with the nervous system and sends the bodies of those affected into constant activity.  The main cause of death from exposure to the agent is acute respiratory distress, according to the World Health Organization.

How do people get exposed to it?

The deadly agent can contaminate water, food and be released into indoor and outdoor air as a vapor or liquid spray, which might also affect agricultural products, according to the CDC. It can be absorbed into the body by eye or skin contact and inhalation. Ingestion is also possible, but less common.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

US fires more than 50 cruise missiles into Syria

The United States attacked a Syrian air base with roughly 60 cruise missiles in response to a chemical weapons attack it blames on President Bashar Assad Thursday evening.

At least six people were killed in the air strike, according to a televised statement by the Syrian’s Armed Forces General Command. Talal Barazi, the governor of the Homs province, told The Associated Press that seven others were wounded.

A Syrian opposition monitor said the attack killed four soldiers, including a general. The head of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said more than a dozen hangars, a fuel depot and an air defense base were damaged.

>> Read more trending news

President Donald Trump said the attack on a Syrian air base was in the nation's "vital national security interest."

"Assad choked out the lives of helpless men, women and children," Trump said.

>> Read: Full transcript of Trump's speech on US Syria strike

Tomahawk missiles were fired from two warships in the Mediterranean Sea, targeting a government-controlled air base in Syria, officials say. 

>> What is a Tomahawk cruise missile and what does it do?

U.S. officials said Syrian government aircraft killed dozens of civilians by using chlorine mixed with a nerve agent, possibly sarin, earlier this week. 

Syrian state TV reported a U.S. missile attack on a number of military targets and called the attack an "aggression."

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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