At least 4 Syrian soldiers, including a senior officer, were killed when the US fired Tomahawk missiles from two destroyers in the eastern Mediterranean, which almost destroyed a Syrian airbase near Homs, a human rights monitor has said.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights also added that dozens of Syrian military members were injured in the strikes.

Homs governor Talal Barazi confirmed deaths at the airfield in an interview with a Lebanese TV station, al-Mayadeen.

"I believe - God willing - that the human casualties are not big, but there is material damage," Barazi told Reuters. "We hope there are not many victims and martyrs."

Barazi added that rescue and firefighting operations were underway at the airbase for almost two hours.

The strike against the air base marks the first time that the United States attacked the Bashar al-Assad regime directly. The US military, on Thursday (6 April), had fired around 59 Tomahawk missiles at the Shayrat airbase in western Syria.

The Pentagon said that airfield was used to store chemical weapons and Syrian aircraft. It added that the Tomahawk missiles targetedaircraft, hardened aircraft shelters, petroleum and logistical storage, reports AFP.

USS Ross
US Navy guided-missile destroyer USS Ross (DDG 71) fires a tomahawk land attack missile on 7 April 2017 Robert S Price/Courtesy US Navy/Handout via Reuters