The U.S. has launched dozens of cruise missiles at a Syrian airbase in response to Syria’s use of banned chemical weapons, the U.S. military has said.
Official say “more than 50” Tomahawk cruise missiles were launched from two U.S. warships in the Mediterranean Sea at the airbase located in Western Syria. NBC News is reporting the number to be 59.
The base, called Shayrat, was where the U.S. believes the Assad regime carried out a chemical weapons attack on Syrian civilians this week that killed anywhere from 70 to 100 people (reports vary).
As of now, there is no immediate report on casualties. Only that aircraft and infrastructure on site were hit, including the runway and gas fuel pumps.
Trump had hinted that he would take action against the chemical weapons attack during a Rose Garden briefing with the King of Jordan.
And this was quick action.
He said the attack had crossed “many, many lines, beyond a red line — many, many lines.”
“That attack on children yesterday had a big impact on me. Big impact. That was a horrible, horrible thing, and I’ve been watching it and seeing it, and it doesn’t get any worse than that.”
In his remarks from Mar-a-Lago:
“Assad choked out the lives of helpless men, women and children. It is in this vital national security interest of the United States to prevent and deter the spread and use of deadly chemical weapons.”
NBC News reports that more than two dozen members of Congress were briefed by administration officials on the missile strike.
Sen. Rand Paul was not a fan of this option, urging the President to come to Congress to obtain authorization for military action.
“While we all condemn the atrocities in Syria, the US was not attacked.
“The President needs congressional authorization for military action and I call on him to come to Congress for a proper debate on our role. Our prior interventions in this region have done nothing to make us safer and Syria will be no different.”
In contrast, Republican defense hawks praised the airstrikes.
“Unlike the previous administration, President Trump confronted a pivotal moment in Syria and took action,” said Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham.
“I think it was an important step,” Sen. Marco Rubio said on CNN. “This was not some symbolic measure.”
You can say that again!
Trump’s statement follows:
My fellow Americans, 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 Syria from where a chemical attack was launched. It is in the 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 U.N. 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 entire world. Thank you.
Syrian television is characterizing the missile strike “as American aggression,” but Ahrar Al Sham, the largest Syrian armed rebel group, says it “welcomes any U.S. intervention through surgical strikes that would deter the Assad regime capabilities to kill civilians and shorten the suffering.”