International Desk : France’s defense minister says its joint military operation with the U.S. and Britain against Syria targeted three sites and that Russia was informed ahead of time.
Defense Minister Florence Parly told reporters Saturday that the French military sent fighter jets from multiple bases in France and used missile-equipped frigates in the Mediterranean in the operation. Rafale fighter jets could be seen on a video posted overnight by the French presidential palace on Twitter.
She said strikes targeted the “main research center” for the Syrian chemical weapons program and “two important production sites.”
She added that “with our allies, we ensured that the Russians were warned ahead of time.” Syria’s ally Russia has denounced the western military action.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said the operation did not target Syria’s allies or civilians but President Bashar Assad’s government because of its alleged use of chemical weapons. Syria’s government denies using them.
Hundreds of Syrians are demonstrating in a landmark square of the Syrian capital, waving victory signs and honking their car horns in a show of defiance.
The demonstrations broke out early Saturday following a wave of U.S., British and French military strikes to punish President Bashar Assad for suspected chemical attack against civilians. The Syrian government has denied the accusations.
In Damascus, the president’s seat of power, hundreds of residents gathered in Omayyad Square, many waving Syrian, Russian and Iranian flags. Some clapped their hands and danced, others drove in convoys, honking their horns.
“We are your men, Bashar,” they shouted.
State TV broadcast live from the square where a large crowd of civilians mixed with men in uniforms, including an actor, lawmakers and other figures.
“Good morning steadfastness,” one broadcaster said.