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Trump Strikes Syria

In an act of moral retaliation, President Trump ordered a cruise missile attack on the airfield where U.S. intelligence has determined Syrian aircraft launched a chemical weapons attack on civilians.

The strike is the first overt military action taken against Syrian president Bashar Assad's odious regime.

Trump's order to strike Syrian government targets came just one day after he said the chemical attacks — whose horrific effects were broadcast worldwide in videos taken in the immediate aftermath. The President said he felt a "responsibility" to respond.

"I will tell you it's already happened that my attitude toward Syria and Assad has changed very much," Trump said.

"When you kill innocent children — innocent babies — babies — little babies with a chemical gas that is so lethal, people were shocked to hear what gas it was, that crosses many, many lines. Beyond a red line, many, many lines," Trump said.

Russia, as expected, condemned the attack as an "act of aggression" and said it would negatively affect U.S.-Russia diplomatic ties.

"When you kill innocent children — innocent babies — babies — little babies with a chemical gas that is so lethal, people were shocked to hear what gas it was, that crosses many, many lines. Beyond a red line, many, many lines."
— President Donald J. Trump

The strike took place at 8:40 p.m. ET (3:40 a.m. local time), when there would have been very little activity at the base. Syrian aircraft, aircraft shelters, petroleum and logistical storage, ammunition supply bunkers, air defense systems, and "the things that make the airfield operate," were targeted, according to Pentagon spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis. The missiles were launched from American warships in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Briefing reporters late Thursday night, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that the strike did not represent a "change in our policy or our posture in Syria," even though it marked the first time the US had decided to take military action against the Syrian government.

"There has been no change in that status," he said. "It does demonstrate that President Trump is willing to act when governments and actors cross the line ... and cross the line in the most heinous of ways."

Tillerson said the administration felt the strike was "proportional because it was targeted at the facility that delivered this most recent chemical attack."

Congressional reaction was generally supportive, but some members — including Senator Rand Paul — warned the administration that it should have consulted with Congress.

Since President Obama reneged on his "red line" threat four years ago, there have been dozens of gas attacks on civilians using chlorine gas, which has commercial and industrial uses but is prohibited by international law from being used as a weapon. Medical observers have evidence that the deadly nerve agent sarin was also used.