Days after a gruesome chemical attack in northern Syria blamed on President Bashar al-Assad, the United States carried out missile strikes on military targets Thursday evening. The move comes in apparent retaliation for the chemical attack, which appeared to make President Trump rethink his position on the Assad regime. Fifty Tomahawk cruise missiles were launched from U.S. warships, CNN reports. The U.S. has been conducting airstrikes on ISIS targets as far back as September 2014, but this is the first direct military action targeting the Assad regime.
From the New York Times:
A senior military official said that 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles had hit al Shayrat airfield in Syria. The missiles were aimed at Syrian fighter jets and other infrastructure, but did not target anything that may have had chemical weapons. He said that no Russian planes were at the airfield, and that the cruise missiles did not target any Russian facilities... The cruise missiles struck the airfield beginning around 8:30 p.m. Eastern Time on Thursday, and the strikes continued for three to four minutes. According to one military official, the Tomahawks were launched from two Navy warships.
The airstrikes were carried out less than an hour after the president concluded a dinner with Xi Jinping, the president of China, at his estate in Mar-a-Lago in Florida, sending an unmistakably aggressive message about Mr. Trump’s willingness to use the military power at his disposal. Mr. Trump authorized the strike with no congressional approval for the use of force, an assertion of presidential authority that contrasts sharply with the protracted deliberations over the use of force by his predecessor, former President Barack Obama.
Donald Trump made a statement from Mar-a-Lago Thursday night.
Trump: "Assad choked out the lives of helpless men, women and children." Full transcript: pic.twitter.com/95ZEo1LCNY— Abby D. Phillip (@abbydphillip) April 7, 2017
Pentagon statement on the strikes:
Pentagon statement on US strike in Syria: “Every precaution was taken to execute this strike with minimal risk to personnel at the airfield” pic.twitter.com/kPEtHCeamF— ABC News (@ABC) April 7, 2017
*This is a developing story; the post has been updated with new information as it became available.