WASHINGTON — The US has launched a military strike on a Syrian government target in retaliation for their chemical weapons attack on civilians earlier in the week, President Donald Trump told the media.
“Tonight (Thursday), I ordered a targeted military strike on the air field in Syria from where the chemical attack was launched,” Trump told reporters at Mar-a-Lago.
The US launched 59 cruise missiles into Syria in the first direct military attack by the country on President Bashar al-Assad’s regime since the civil war began.
Dozens of Tomahawk missiles were fired at an air base in Syria, military officials said.
It was the first time that the White House had ordered military action against forces loyal to the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad.
Just minutes before the missile attack, Russia warned the US of the “negative consequences” of military strikes on Syria.
Members of the UN Security Council were still negotiating a resolution in response to the chemical attack.
The speed with which the Trump administration responded — and remarks earlier in the day by American officials who said that options were still being considered — appeared intended to maximize the element of surprise and sharply contrasted with the methodical scrutiny of the use of force by the Obama administration.
It was President Trump’s first order to the military for the use of force — other operations in Syria, Yemen and Iraq had been carried out under authorization delegated to his commanders — and appeared intended to send a message to North Korea, Iran and other potential adversaries that the new commander in chief was prepared to act, and sometimes on short notice.