President Donald Trump approved missiles to attack areas of Syria on Friday night in response to the Syrian government’s alleged chemical attack last weekend that killed over 40 people, including women and children.
Gruesome images of the attack triggered promises of retaliation from the president.
“I ordered the United States armed forces to launch precision strikes on targets associated with the chemical weapon capabilities of Syrian dictator of Bashar al-Assad,” Trump said shortly after 9 p.m. ET, according to CNN.
Trump’s announcement immediately preceded reports of loud explosions lighting up the sky in Damascus.
— Qutaiba قتيبة (@Qattouby) April 14, 2018
In addition to U.S. Navy warships, U.S. Air Force B-1 bombers also took part in strikes against Assad regime in Syria: officials
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In his speech Friday evening, Trump made his contempt for Assad clear.
“These are not the actions of a man,” Trump said, according to The New York Times. “They are crimes of a monster instead.”
“The evil and the despicable attack left mothers and fathers, infants and children writhing in pain and gasping for air,” the president continued.
Trump said the attack is designed to “establish a strong deterrent against the production, spread and use of chemical weapons.”
“The combined American, British and French response to these atrocities will integrate all instruments of our national power: military, economic and diplomatic,” he said.
Trump also attacked the nations that support the regime of Assad.
“To Iran and Russia I ask, what kind of nation wants to be associated with the mass murder of innocent men, women and children?” Trump said. “The nations of the world can be judged by the fiends they keep.”
Trump had an additional message for Russia.
“Russia must decide if it will continue down this dark path or if it will join with civilized nations as a force for stability and peace,” he said. “Hopefully someday we’ll get along with Russia, and maybe even Iran, but maybe not.”
The president said the attack, which reportedly involved cruise missiles and aircraft, is not as one-shot event.
“We are prepared to sustain this response until the Syrian regime stops its use of prohibited chemical agents,” Trump said.
“America does not seek an indefinite presence in Syria,” he continued. “As other nations step up their contributions we look forward to the day we can bring our warriors home.”
Trump acknowledged that the United States “cannot purge the world of evil or act everywhere there is tyranny” and called the Middle East a “troubled place.”
“We will try to make it better but it is a troubled place,” Trump said. “The U.S. will be a partner and a friend. But the fate of the region lies in the hands of its own people.”
Trump ended his address with a call to faith to the American people.
“We pray that God will bring comfort to those suffering in Syria,” Trump said, according to ABC. “We pray that God will guide the whole region toward a future of dignity and of peace. And we pray that God will continue to watch over and bless the United States of America.”
Last April, Trump launched a missile strike after Syria used chemical weapons against a rebel-held village. He said at that time that any further attack would spur American retaliation.
British Prime Minister Theresa May also said there is “no practicable alternative to the use of force,” according to The Telegraph.
“This persistent pattern of behaviour must be stopped,” May said. “Not just to protect innocent people in Syria from the horrific deaths and casualties caused by chemical weapons but also because we cannot allow the erosion of the international norm that prevents the use of these weapons.”
“This is not about intervening in a civil war,” she continued. “It is not about regime change. It is about a limited and targeted strike that does not further escalate tensions in the region and that does everything possible to prevent civilian casualties.”
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