UK 'confident' air strikes hit chemical weapons facilities in Syria

Theresa May.
Theresa May.
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The UK is 'confident' that air strikes carried out by Britain, the US and France on suspected chemical weapons facilities in Syria have been successful, the Prime Minister has said.

Theresa May also said it had been "right and legal" to take action and Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson also said it had been a "highly successful mission."

Mr Williamson said the UK, France and America had played an important role in "degrading the ability of the Syrian regime to use chemical weapons" following a suspected attack on the Syrian town of Douma.

The Ministry of Defence said Storm Shadow missiles were launched by four RAF Tornados at a former missile base 15 miles west of Homs, where it is thought the Assad regime is stockpiling items used to make chemical weapons.

A spokesperson added the facility was "located some distance from any known concentrations of civilian habitation" and scientific analysis was used to "minimise any risks of contamination to the surrounding area."

In a statement Mrs May said that the Syrian regime had demonstrated a "persistent pattern of behaviour" when it came to the use of chemical weapons, that "must be stopped."

The Ministry of Defence has described the action as "proportionate" after Labour's Jeremy Corbyn called the strikes "legally questionable" and Syrian state media called them a "violation of international law."

The four British Tornado Jets took off in the early hours of this morning here from RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus. Each was armed with a Storm Shadow missile.

The cruise missile is 5m (16ft) long and has a range of 300 miles. They had already been programmed to find their target using GPS.

The four Tornados fired the missiles well away from Syrian airspace out of range of the regime's air defences and then they all returned safely.