United States military forces have begun airstrikes against Syria Thursday night in response to chemical attacks against Syrian civilians that have been attributed to Syrian President Basjar Assad.
According to U.S. officials, up to 50 Tomahawk missiles were launched from the USS Porter and the USS Ross, against a Syrian Air Force base. According to Fox News, the missiles targeted an air base near the central Syrian village of Shayrat.
In a statement given tonight from his Mar-A-Lago compound in Florida, Donald Trump condemned the “horrible chemical weapons attack on innocent children,” and said the attack was in the United States’ “vital national security interest to prevent and deter the spread and use of deadly chemical weapons.”
Trump said that “years of previous attempts” to stop Syria’s accumulation of chemical weapons had failed, and “[a]s a result the refugee crisis continues to deepen and the region continues to destabilize, threatening the United States and its allies.
The President’s full statement is below:
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 innocent men, women and children. It was a slow and brutal death for so many. Even beautiful babies were cruelly murdered in this 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 the chemical attack was launched.
It’s 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.
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.
Goodnight and god bless America and the entire world.
Trump first talked up the use of military force in response to the chemical attacks on Wednesday in a joint press conference with Jordan’s King Abdullah. “A chemical attack that was so horrific in Syria against innocent people, including women, small children and even beautiful little babies… their deaths was an affront to humanity,” Trump said at the time. “These heinous actions by the Assad regime cannot be tolerated.”
Trump notably has opposed the resettlement of Syrian refugees in the United States, and specifically prohibited the entry of Syrians in his executive orders banning immigration from several majority-Muslim countries. His most recent executive order banned Syrian refugees from entry into the United States for a period of 90s days. That order is currently enduring court challenges. Many observers noted tonight that Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton also advocated for airstrikes as a tool to deal with the Assad government during the campaign. However, Clinton also called for an increase in the number of refugees admitted into the United States.