RAF fighter jets guarded a Cyprus base in fear of a revenge attack by the Kremlin after a missile strike wiped out a Syrian chemical weapons plant says the Sun.
British war planes flew from the Mediterranean to launch eight £790,000-a-piece missiles at Assad’s storage plant 15 miles west of Homs, in Syria.
But it has now emerged that two Typhoon fighters stayed behind to guard the base.
RAF chiefs had the war planes at “high readiness” on the runway in case Vladimir Putin planned to launch his own jets, in retaliation for the bombing of his ally Bashar al-Assad, the Daily Mail reports.
While the Typhoon’s were on guard the four RAF fighters were launching a devastating attack – 300 miles away from their target.
Not one missile was fired from inside Syrian airspace. They were launched from as far afield as the Persian Gulf, the Red Sea, the Med and Qatar and hit around 2am UK time.
British, US and French missiles hit the chemical plants simultaneously — reducing them all to ruins and putting President Assad’s chemical weapons programme back years.
It has now emerged that the
In the wake of the attack:
- THERESA May vowed to attack Syria again if Assad carried out more atrocities.
- DONALD Trump saluted Allied Forces and declared: “Mission accomplished.”
- FOR the first time Football Association sources refused to rule out a Russia World Cup boycott.
- DEFENCE chiefs drew up emergency plans to airlift holidaymakers from Cyprus.
The strikes on the Him Shinshar chemical storage site come in retaliation against Bashar al-Assad’s chemical weapons attack on Douma that left 75 dead and more than 500 injured last week.
Earlier US President Donald Trump tweeted “mission accomplished” for a “perfectly executed strike”, praising Britain and France for “their wisdom and the power of their fine military”.
The coordinated strike saw American forces launching 85 cruise missiles aimed mainly at a chemical weapons lab at Barzeh near the Syrian capital Damascus.
The USS Laboon fired seven Tomahawks from the Red Sea. USS Monterey dispatched 30 more from the same area and USS Higgins launched 23 from the Persian Gulf.
Submarine USS John Warner launched six more Tomahawks from the eastern Mediterranean while two B-1 Lancer bombers from Al Uldeid US air base in Qatar delivered another 19 air-to-surface missiles.
A squadron of 12 French Rafale jets and four Mirages, on a long-range mission from an airbase in France, launched nine Scalp cruise missiles.
And a French navy frigate in the eastern Mediterranean fired three of its new generation of long-range MdCN missiles for the first time.
PM Theresa May insisted yesterday Britain was right to attack Syria’s chemical weapons dumps and said she is prepared to order a fresh onslaught after being moved to action by the “harrowing pictures” of dying children.
She said: “There is no graver decision that a Prime Minister can take than to send service personnel into combat. This is the first time I have had to do so and I have not taken this course of action lightly.
“But at the end of the day, I felt it was the right thing to do because we have seen this growing use of chemical weapons and we have to say this must stop.”
Pentagon chief Lieutenant General Kenneth F McKenzie said all the allied missiles had hit “between one-two minutes” at around 4am local time (2am in the UK). He added the strikes would “set the Syrian chemical weapons programme back for years”.
He added: “No Syrian weapons had any effect on anything that we did. We have attacked the heart of Syria’s chemical weapons programme and dealt them a very severe blow.”
McKenzie said “robust” allied forces were ready to repel any Syrian or Russian counter-attack, adding: “We’re on the balls of our feet. We’re ready for anything.”
It was the first time the rockets, which use GPS and computerised mapping technology, have been used in Syria.
The terrain-hugging missiles are believed to have used delayed fuses allowing the warhead to burrow deep underground before exploding.
No allied casualties were reported and all allied aircraft returned safely to their bases. No Russian defences in Syria were activated.
The PM, who described the chemical weapons attack as crossing a “line in the sand”, linked the Syria strikes to the poisoning of ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia, which has been blamed on Putin.
She added: “Although of a much lower order of magnitude, the use of a nerve agent on the streets of the UK in recent weeks is part of a pattern.
“So while our action is specifically about deterring the Syrian regime, it will also send a clear signal to anyone else who believes they can use chemical weapons with impunity.”
She added: “We have, for nearly 100 years now, had a generally accepted position in the international community that they are illegal. We have seen that norm being eroded.”
Russia President Putin said the strikes were an “act of aggression”. And Anatoly Antonov, Russia’s ambassador to the US, warned: “Such actions will not be left without consequences.”
Mrs May gave the final order to attack from Chequers on Friday night.
After a few hours’ sleep, the PM returned to Downing Street by car, arriving before 7am.