The United States has fired a barrage of cruise missiles into Syria in retaliation for this week’s gruesome chemical weapons attack against civilians, US officials said.
It was the first direct American assault on the Syrian government and Donald Trump’s most dramatic military order since becoming president.
The surprise strike that took place last night marked a striking reversal for Trump, who warned as a candidate against the US getting pulled into the Syrian civil war, now in its seventh year.
But the president appeared moved by the photos of children killed in the chemical attack, calling it a “disgrace to humanity” that crossed “a lot of lines.”
About 60 US Tomahawk missiles, fired from warships in the Mediterranean Sea, targeted an air base in retaliation for a chemical weapons attack that American officials believe Syrian government aircraft launched with a nerve agent, possibly sarin.
#9:30 AM: U.S. defense official calls U.S. strike on Syria a 'one-off'
#9:00 AM: Fire fighting and rescue operations have been ongoing for more than two hours at Syrian air base: Homs governor (via Reuters)
#8:57 AM: Assad is a brutal dictator who must be held account for atrocities. But the President's failure to seek congressional approval is unlawful. President waging military action against Syria without a vote of Congress? Unconstitutional: Tim Kain
#8:15 AM: 'We sought no approval from Moscow': U.S. Secretary of State Tillerson
#8:10 AM: Initial indications are that strike reduced Syrian government's ability to deliver chemical weapons: U.S. military
#8:10 AM: 'We feel the strike itself was proportionate' - U.S. Secretary of State Tillerson
#8:10 AM: Global Oil prices jump after U.S. launches missile strike in Syria
#8:10 AM: US did not target sections of the base where Russian forces were believed to be present: Pentagon
#8:10 AM: Stocks skid, safe-haven assets jump as U.S. strikes Syria
#8:00 AM: U.S. informed Russia ahead of cruise missile strike on Syria's Shayrat airfield: Pentagon
#8:00 AM: Syrian military source says U.S. missile strike on Syrian air base 'led to losses': state TV
#8:00 AM: Trump says there can be no dispute that Syria used banned chemical weapons
#7:45 AM: Syrian state TV reports US missile attack on number of military targets, calls the attack an "aggression"
#7:25 AM: President Donald Trump calls on 'civilized nations' to join U.S. in 'seeking to end the slaughter and bloodshed in Syria.'
#7:25 AM: Dozens of Tomahawk cruise missiles were fired by US at an air base in Syria at 8:45 p.m. Eastern Time, target was the Shayrat airfield
#7:00 AM: United States launches dozens of cruise missiles at airbase in Syria - U.S. official, reports Reuters
The president did not announce the attacks in advance, though he and other national security officials ratcheted up their warnings to the Syrian government throughout on Thursday.
“I think what happened in Syria is one of the truly egregious crimes and shouldn’t have happened and it shouldn’t be allowed to happen,” Trump told reporters traveling on Air Force One to Florida, where he was holding a two-day summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
The strike came as Trump was hosting Xi in meetings focused in part on another pressing US security dilemma: North Korea’s nuclear program.
Trump’s actions in Syria could signal to China that the new president isn’t afraid of unilateral military steps. even if key nations like China are standing in the way.