US launches missile strikes in response to chemical ‘attack’

7 April 2017
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The United States launched a military strike Thursday on a Syrian government target in response to their chemical weapons attack that killed dozens of civilians earlier in the week.

On President Donald Trump’s orders, US warships launched 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles at a Syrian government airbase where the warplanes that carried out the chemical attacks were based, US officials said.

The strike is the first direct military action the US has taken against the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the country’s six-year civil war and represent a substantial escalation of the US’ military campaign in the region, which could be interpreted by the Syrian government as an act of war.

Trump on Syria’s Assad: ‘Something should happen’

“Tonight, I ordered a targeted military strike on the air field in Syria from where the chemical attack was launched,” Trump said during short remarks to reporters at Mar-a-Lago, where he ordered the strike just hours earlier. “It is in this vital national security of the United States to prevent and deter the spread and use of deadly chemical weapons.”

He added: “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.”

Shift in policy

Trump’s decision marked a dramatic shift in his position on whether the US should take military action against the Syrian President’s regime — which Trump opposed during his campaign for president — and came after the President was visibly and publicly moved by the images of this week’s chemical weapons attack.

The strike took place at 8:40 p.m. ET (3:40 a.m. local time), when there would be minimal activity at the base, and targeted aircraft, hardened aircraft shelters, petroleum and logistical storage, ammunition supply bunkers, air defense systems, and “the things that make the airfield operate,” Pentagon spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis told reporters. The missiles were launched from warships in the Eastern Mediterranean.

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