U.S., U.K. and France Launch Strikes Against Syria
President Donald Trump said he launched missile strikes on Syria in retaliation for an alleged chemical attack by the regime of Bashar al-Assad.
Trump said the missile strikes, which were focused on chemical weapons sites, would be carried out in coordination with France and the U.K. and he made clear that the U.S. is prepared to sustain the strikes until Syria stops using chemical weapons.
“The purpose of our actions tonight is to establish a strong deterrent against the production, spread and use of chemical weapons,” he said in a televised address from the White House. “We are prepared to sustain this response until the Syrian regime stops its use of its use of prohibited chemical agents.”
The president also blasted Iran and Russia for supporting Assad’s regime, particularly in the wake of the suspected chemical attack.
"To Iran and to Russia, I ask what kind of nation wants to be associated with the mass murder of innocent men, women and children,” he said.
Syria said its air defenses were “confronting the U.S.-French-British aggression,” according to the state-run SANA news agency. Syria’s Observatory for Human Rights, a group monitoring the conflict, reported that the strikes targeted several military bases, Republican Guards locations and the Scientific Studies Research Center.
U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May said the “targeted” strikes were aimed to deter future chemical attacks.
“This is not about intervening in a civil war. It is not about regime change,” she said in statement.
Trump’s statement on U.S. policy toward Syria came after days of speculation that the U.S. would launch a strike against Syria in retaliation for an apparent chemical weapons attack last weekend that killed scores of civilians. A U.S. military response was widely expected to include missile strikes.
An assault has been expected since Trump vowed last Sunday to respond forcibly to a “horrible attack” on Douma, a town outside Damascus that was among the last strongholds for rebels opposed to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Estimates of civilian casualties ranged from 21 to more than 78.
But the president also made clear that the U.S. actions has limits and that the U.S. commitment to acting in the Middle East won’t last forever.
“We will try to make it better,” Trump said. ”But the Middle East is a troubled place.”
Last April, Trump ordered a cruise missile strike against a Syrian airbase last April after a similar chemical weapons attack on civilians. That was the first direct American assault on Assad’s forces since the conflict in Syria began in March 2011.
The attack in Douma complicated Trump’s plans for the region. Before reports of the latest chemical attack, Trump said the American military would be withdrawing from Syria “very soon,” once the defeat of Islamic State militants was secured. Last weekend, he condemned the chemical attack in a tweet and warned there would be a “big price to pay.”
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