Warplanes returned Saturday to the devastated Syrian town hit by chemical weapons earlier this week, despite a U.S. missile strike on a Syrian air base that's now back in business.
The new airstrikes killed one woman and wounded one other person in Khan Sheikhoun, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. That's the same town where the gas attack took place earlier this week, killing 86 people, including dozens of children, prompting the U.S. missile launch.
“Those attacks did not reduce the regime’s ability to kill civilians. They can still commit massacres at any time,” Abdulrzzak Khattab, a resident who said his house was damaged in Saturday’s attack, told The Washington Post.
It's not clear whether the new attack was launched from Shayrat, the base damaged by 59 U.S. Tomahawk missiles.
In a letter delivered to Congress on Saturday justifying the strike, President Trump said he wasn't ruling out additional military action.
"I acted in the vital national security and foreign policy interests of the United States, pursuant to my constitutional authority to conduct foreign relations and as Commander in Chief and Chief Executive," he wrote. "The United States will take additional action, as necessary and appropriate, to further its important national interests."
A Syrian human rights group reported Friday that Shayrat was once again operational, with warplanes taking off. The planes carried out strikes on areas the Syrian government claims are controlled by the Islamic State in the eastern countryside of Homs, part of the Idlib province.
Despite reports that at least one runway was hit by during the U.S. attack, President Trump tweeted Saturday that missiles were aimed at more strategic targets at the air base.
"The reason you don't generally hit runways is that they are easy and inexpensive to quickly fix (fill in and top)!" he said on Twitter.
The reason you don't generally hit runways is that they are easy and inexpensive to quickly fix (fill in and top)!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 8, 2017
Ret. Maj Gen. James "Spider" Marks told CNN on Saturday that Tomahawks likely wouldn't have been used if the strike's primary aim was grounding aircraft.
"The Tomahawk is not a weapons system to crater a runway and render that runway inoperable," said Marks, executive dean of the College of Criminal Justice and Security for the University of Phoenix. "But if the United States had chosen to do that — and certainly we've got the capabilities to crater runways — it's very easy to fill those holes back in and make a runway usable in very little time."
The U.S. missiles struck early Friday morning in Syria, targeting Shayrat's hangars, control tower and ammunition areas. The Syrian military said at least 9 people were killed and several more wounded by the U.S. strike.
President Trump said he ordered the strikes in retaliation for a nerve gas attack by Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime in Khan Sheikhoun. He tweeted his appreciation for the mission's success Saturday: "Congratulations to our great military men and women for representing the United States, and the world, so well in the Syria attack," he wrote.
Congratulations to our great military men and women for representing the United States, and the world, so well in the Syria attack.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 8, 2017
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