Less than 24 hours after two US Navy destroyers pulled up to Syria’s Mediterranean coast and let fly a blistering salvo of 59 cruise missiles, Syrian warplanes took off from the damaged air base targeted by the strike, according to the Syrian Human Rights Observatory.

The US strike, retaliation for a chemical attack in northeastern Syria that killed at least 80 people earlier this week, targeted “aircraft, hardened aircraft shelters, petroleum and logistical storage, ammunition supply bunkers, air defense systems, and radars” at Shayrat air base, according to a Pentagon statement.

But Syria and its Russian backers have many air bases and lots of military infrastructure in the country.

The US intentionally launched a limited strike, which was too small and focused to realistically prevent Syrian forces from flying military aircraft in their country.

“The US took extraordinary measures to avoid civilian casualties and to comply with the Law of Armed Conflict,” said Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman. “Every precaution was taken to execute this strike with minimal risk to personnel at the airfield.”

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Sharyat air base air strikeShayrat airfield, released by the Pentagon, DigitalGlobe/Courtesy U.S. Department of Defense

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Featured image courtesy of Reuters