A total of 59 missiles were launched Thursday against Syrian Air Force facilities in Homs in response to what President Donald Trump said was a chemical-controlled attack on a rebel-controlled city, that happened two days before. Pentagon spokesman Jeff Davis said that according to the U.S. intelligence, planes that dropped bombs loaded with a nerve agent in the town of Khan Sheikhoun and killed more than 80 people. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has denied using chemical weapons but, Shayrat has a very close past with this kind of arsenal.

A key place in the war

The Shayrat airbase is located in the province of Homs, about 25 km southeast of the homonymous city. With an area of about 10 square kilometers, it has two runways of 3 km in length, as well as dozens of hangars, buildings and storage facilities. This site has been occupied by the Syrian military since the civil war began six years ago.

In Shayrat, chemical weapons were stored until 2013 when Al-Assad agreed to their destruction. At that time his forces were accused of firing missiles full of sarin gas in the suburbs of Damascus, killing hundreds of people. In early November 2015, just over a month after launching an air strike against Al Assad's opponents, the Russian army began using Shayrat as the base of operations for Mi-24 and Mi-35 type attack helicopters.

The attack on Khan Sheikhoun

On Tuesday, U.S. military radar systems Detected that a Syrian Air Force aircraft took off from Shayrat and flew over Khan Sheikhoun twice: at 06:37 local time (03:37 GMT) and again 10 minutes later. The United States military sources told NBC News that the radars detected flashes on the ground, indicating that something had been thrown into the rebel-controlled city.

At the same time, hundreds of people began to suffer symptoms compatible with the reaction to a nerve agent. According to Russia, Syrian aircraft had hit a rebel tank full of chemical weapons, but Trump disagreed. "There is no doubt that Syria used banned chemical weapons," president Donald Trump said in a brief speech Thursday night.

The bombardment of the base

Around 03:40 local time (00:40 GMT) on Friday, two U.S. Navy destroyers located in the eastern Mediterranean Sea launched 59 Tomahawk missiles on the Syrian air base. The United States had already carried out air strikes against jihadist groups in Syria, but this is the first time it has directly attacked the Syrian government since the war began in 2011.