WASHINGTON (CBSDFW.COM/AP) - President Trump ordered military action against the Assad regime Thursday night after the Syrian chemical attack on Tuesday.
"Assad choked out the helpless," President Trump says after the U.S. military action against the Bashar al-Assad regime. "Previous attempts at changing Assad's behavior have all failed and failed dramatically."
President Trump continued, "No child of God should ever suffer such horror," regarding the chemical attack on Syrian civilians.
Nearly 60 cruise missiles launched from ships in eastern Mediterranean were aimed at locations around Syrian airfield.
The U.S. targeted Syrian airfield, Shayrat, located about 50 miles due south of village that was hit in gas attack.
"I think the key complexity here is we would not want to attack a Syrian target at which there were Russian forces," former Deputy Director of the CIA Michael Morell said.
U.S. officials say the Tomahawk missiles were fired from two warships in the Mediterranean Sea, targeting a government-controlled air base in Syria.
U.S. officials say Syrian government aircraft killed dozens of civilians by using chlorine mixed with a nerve agent, possibly sarin, earlier this week.
The bombing represents President Donald Trump's most dramatic military order since taking office.
"There can be no dispute that Syria used banned chemical weapons," Trump said.
The Pentagon said Thursday night, "Russian forces were notified in advance of the strike using the established deconfliction line. U.S. military planners took precautions to minimize risk to Russian or Syrian personnel located at the airfield."
The Obama administration threatened attacking Assad's forces for previous chemical weapons attacks, but never followed through.
President Donald Trump is calling on "all civilized nations" to join the U.S. in seeking an end to the carnage in Syria.
Trump said "peace and harmony will prevail" so long as the U.S. continues to stand for justice.
U.S. Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham said in a joint statement that the U.S. "have sent an important message the United States will no longer stand idly by as Assad, aided and abetted by Putin's Russia, slaughters innocent Syrians with chemical weapons and barrel bombs."
"Unlike the previous administration, President Trump confronted a pivotal moment in Syria and took action. For that, he deserves the support of the American people," the statement read.
"If Russians happen to be there, then they were complicit in these attacks," said Sen. Marco Rubio on possibility of Russian onsite of Syrian airfield hit by cruise missiles.
Here is President Trump's full statement Thursday night:
My fellow Americans: 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 helpless men, women, and children. It was a slow and brutal death for so many. Even beautiful babies were cruelly murdered in this very 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 is 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 U.N. Security Council.
Years of previous attempts at changing Assad's behavior have all failed, and failed very dramatically. 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, then peace and harmony will, in the end, prevail.
Goodnight. And God bless America and the entire world. Thank you.
Pentagon Spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis released this statement on U.S. strike in Syria:
At the direction of the president, U.S. forces conducted a cruise missile strike against a Syrian Air Force airfield today at about 8:40 p.m. EDT (4:40 a.m., April 7, in Syria). The strike targeted Shayrat Airfield in Homs governorate, and were in response to the Syrian government's chemical weapons attack April 4 in Khan Sheikhoun, which killed and injured hundreds of innocent Syrian people, including women and children.
The strike was conducted using Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles (TLAMs) launched from the destroyers USS Porter and USS Ross in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea. A total of 59 TLAMs targeted aircraft, hardened aircraft shelters, petroleum and logistical storage, ammunition supply bunkers, air defense systems, and radars. As always, the U.S. took extraordinary measures to avoid civilian casualties and to comply with the Law of Armed Conflict. Every precaution was taken to execute this strike with minimal risk to personnel at the airfield.
The strike was a proportional response to Assad's heinous act. Shayrat Airfield was used to store chemical weapons and Syrian air forces. The U.S. intelligence community assesses that aircraft from Shayrat conducted the chemical weapons attack on April 4. The strike was intended to deter the regime from using chemical weapons again.
Russian forces were notified in advance of the strike using the established deconfliction line. U.S. military planners took precautions to minimize risk to Russian or Syrian personnel located at the airfield.
We are assessing the results of the strike. Initial indications are that this strike has severely damaged or destroyed Syrian aircraft and support infrastructure and equipment at Shayrat Airfield, reducing the Syrian Government's ability to deliver chemical weapons.
The use of chemical weapons against innocent people will not be tolerated.
U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) issued the following statement:
Today, after eight years of Obama foreign policy failures, Syria is a humanitarian disaster. Bashar al-Assad is a monster, a puppet of Russia and Iran, and he has once again used chemical weapons against his own citizens, murdering innocent men, women, and children.
Our prayers are with Assad's victims, and with the victims of the ISIS and al Qaeda terrorists ripping Syria apart. And, as always, our support and prayers are with the brave Americans in uniform who carried out the military strike tonight.
Any military action in Syria must be justified as protecting the vital national security interests of America – including decisive action to prevent chemical weapons from falling into the hands of radical Islamic terrorists – and I look forward to our Commander-in-Chief making the case to Congress and the American people how we should do so in the days ahead.
Congresswoman Kay Granger (TX-12), Chairwoman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, released the following statement:
Tonight, the White House made me aware that the United States would no longer stand idly by as President Assad slaughters his own people. I cannot more strongly applaud President Trump's decisive actions against the Government of Syria. For years we have watched as the Syrian people endured unimaginable atrocities at the hand of their own government. The world cannot allow this type of evil to go unchecked. Tonight the United States has shown we are ready to lead the fight.
(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)
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