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The U.S. military launched 59 cruise missiles at a Syrian military airfield early Friday in the first direct American assault on the government of President Bashar al-Assad since that country’s civil war began nearly six years ago.

The operation, which the Trump administration authorized in retaliation for a chemical attack killing scores of civilians this week, dramatically expands U.S. military involvement in Syria and exposes the United States to heightened risk of direct confrontation with Russia and Iran, both backing Assad in his attempt to crush his opposition.

Syria and Russia swiftly denounced the attack, launched at around 3:40 a.m. local time Friday (8:40 p.m. EDT Thursday) from U.S. ships in the eastern Mediterranean.

Source: U.S. strikes Syrian military airfield in first direct assault on Bashar al-Assad’s government