On Thursday evening, President Trump ordered a missile strike against an airfield in Syria reportedly responsible for the chemical gas attack on civilians this week. According to NBC News, over fifty Tomahawk missiles were fired at the Ash Sha’irat airfield in Homs province from a ship in the Mediterranean Sea.
Earlier this afternoon, Russia warned the United States at the United Nations over a possible strike against Syria. Those comments came after the Trump administration’s revised assessment that Syrian dictator Bashar Assad needed to be ousted from power, and after Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said there was “no doubt in our minds” that Assad was responsible for the gas attack, which killed at least 25 children, and told Russia to “consider carefully their continued support of the Assad regime.”
United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley stated today, “Russia cannot escape responsibility for this. They chose to close their eyes to the barbarity. They defied the conscience of the world.”
NBC News reports that the Trump administration warned Russia prior to the missile strike to ensure that no Russian assets were targeted.
Days before the gas attack, members of the Trump administration said that the United States had no interest in ousting Assad.
Thursday’s attack signals a dramatic pivot in the administration’s position on Assad. The aggressive response also highlights the difference between the new administration and the Obama administration, which was strongly criticized for failing to respond to Assad’s previous defiance of international law.
Trump made the following statement, taking no questions:
“On Tuesday, Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad launched a horrible chemical weapons attack on innocent civilians. Using a deadly nerve agent, Assad choked out the lives of helpless men, women and children. It was a slow and brutal death for so many. Even beautiful babies were cruelly murdered in this very barbaric attack. No child of God should ever suffer such horror. Tonight I ordered a targeted military strike on the airfield in strike from where the chemical attack was launched.
It is in this vital national security interest of the United States to prevent and deter the spread and use of deadly chemical weapons. There can be no dispute that Syria used banned chemical weapons, violated its obligations under the Chemical Weapons Convention, and ignored the urging of the UN Security Council.
Years of previous attempts at changing Assad’s behavior have all failed, and failed very dramatically. As a result, the refugee crisis continues to deepen, and the region continues to destabilize, threatening the United States and its allies.
Tonight I call on all civilized nations to join us in seeking to end the slaughter and bloodshed in Syria, and also to end terrorism of all kinds and all types. We ask for God’s wisdom as we face the challenge of our very troubled world. We pray for the lives of the wounded and for the souls of those who have passed. And we hope that as long as America stands for justice, that peace and harmony will, in the end, prevail. Good night, and god bless America and the world. Thank you.”