Breaking : Syrian warplanes take off from air base hit by United States

Syrian warplanes took off from the same airbase hit by US missiles on Friday to carry out bombing raids on rebel-held areas, including the town targeted in a chemical attack.

The aircraft took off from inside the Shayrat base just hours after the US strike and struck targets in the eastern Homs countryside, according to a a monitoring group.

The Syrian airstrikes were carried out on Khan Sheikhoun – the same town Bashar al-Assad is accused of attacking with chemicals – and seven other towns.

The aircraft targeted territory controlled by the Islamic State jihadist group, which holds parts of the central Syrian province of Homs.

The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors the war using sources on the ground, could not specify whether they were Syrian or Russian planes, but said they were Sukhoi jets, which both Damascus and its ally Moscow use.

The Syrian government responded to Thursday night’s U.S. strike on its Shaayrat air base by quickly fixing the base and allowing the two planes to take off from there, the human rights organization said.

A U.S. official said Syrian planes took off from the base today but did not confirm the action taken by the plane.

The official noted that up to 20 Syrian aircraft were destroyed in Thursday’s airstrikes but added that the missiles did not target every aircraft at the base and that the runway was untouched.

The departures came after Nikki Haley, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, warned today that the United States is “prepared to do more” in Syria, one day after U.S. warships fired a barrage of cruise missiles at the Syrian government air base.

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“The United States took a very measured step last night. We are prepared to do more, but we hope that will not be necessary,” Haley said today during a special open session of the U.N. Security Council devoted to discussing Syria.

The United States launched the direct assault against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime in response to a chemical weapons attack earlier this week that killed dozens of civilians.

Haley accused Assad’s regime of carrying out Tuesday’s horrific attack in northern Syria, saying this “fully justified” the U.S. government’s decision to strike the air base.

“The moral stain of the Assad regime could no longer go unanswered,” she said.