President Trump authorized a precision attack against Syria Friday in response to the Bashar al-Assad regime's use of chemical weapons.
- President Trump authorized a precision strike in Syria
- Attack in coordination with Great Britain, France
- Attack is in retaliation for chemical attacks last week
Loud explosions were heard over the Syrian capital of Damascus Friday night. Syrian TV reported that Syrian air defenses responded to the attack from the United States and its allies.
Secretary of Defense James Mattis said the allies attacked Syria's chemical research and development facilities, and made sure to minimize risk to civilians.
"It is a time for all civilized nations to urgently unite in ending the Syrian Civil War by supporting the United Nations in this peace process," Mattis said.
The targets included a research facility in the Damascus area; a storage facility, which The Pentagon says is the primary location for Syria's Sarin gas stockpile. A third target was a command post and a chemical weapons equipment storage facility.
The president said the attack was authorized in conjunction with the French and British governments, and that the governments were prepared for a "sustained" response until the Syrians stop using chemical weapons.
Trump says that last Saturday, Assad deployed chemical weapons in what was a "significant escalation in a pattern of chemical weapons use by that very terrible regime."
Mattis said he was absolutely confident the chemical attack was conducted by the Syrian regime, and so was the intelligence community. They believe chlorine was used, but they are not ruling out sarin as well.
But Trump also said America does not seek "an indefinite presence" in Syria and will look to pull out its troops once the Islamic State is totally defeated.
Trump has signaled in recent weeks that, despite advice from his national security team, he wanted to accelerate the timetable of the withdrawal of American forces.
The president also spoke directly to Russia and Iran, the biggest supporters of the Assad regime.
"To Iran and to Russia, I ask: What kind of a nation wants to be associated with the mass murder of innocent men, women and children?” the president asked.
He also said the strikes were a "direct result" of Russia's failure to stop Assad from using chemical weapons. He also said Iran and Russia were most responsible for supporting, equipping and financing Assad.
“The nations of the world can be judged by the friends they keep,” Trump said.
The Pentagon said it contacted the Russians to inform them to clear the airspace.
A statement was released on the Facebook page for the Russian Embassy in Washington:
Response from lawmakers
Congressional lawmakers have already begun sending their responses: