In remarks made to the nation Friday night immediately following a strike against three facilities associated with Syria’s chemical weapons program, President Donald Trump sent a message to Syrian strongman Bashar al-Assad: What he had done represented the “crimes of a monster.”
The attacks, conducted in concert with British and French forces, were authorized by the president as retaliation for a chemical attack last Saturday in which dozens of innocent civilians were killed by chlorine gas.
“One year ago, Assad launched a savage chemical weapons attack against his own innocent people,” the president said. “The United States responded with 58 missile strikes that destroyed 20 percent of the Syrian air force.
“Last Saturday, the Assad regime again deployed chemical weapons to slaughter innocent civilians, this time in the town of Douma near the Syrian capital of Damascus,” he continued. “This massacre was a significant escalation in a pattern of chemical weapons used by that very terrible regime.”
“The evil and the despicable attack left mothers and fathers, infants and children thrashing in pain and gasping for air,” the president said.
“These are not the actions of a man. They are crimes of a monster instead.”
Trump then noted that “following the horrors of World War I a century ago, civilized nations joined together to ban chemical warfare.
“Chemical weapons are uniquely dangerous, not only because they inflict gruesome suffering, but because even small amounts can unleash widespread devastation.
“The purpose of our actions tonight is to establish a strong deterrent against the production, spread and use of chemical weapons,” Trump continued. “Establishing this deterrent is a vital national security interest of the United States.”
Assad wasn’t the only world leader to receive a dressing down from Trump, either. Vladimir Putin also received censure, with Trump blaming the Russian president for failing to ensure that the Syrians dismantled their chemical arsenal.
“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?” Trump said. “The nations of the world can be judged by the friends they keep.
“No nation can succeed in the long run by promoting rogue states, brutal tyrants and murderous dictators. In 2013, President Putin and his government promised the world that they would guarantee the elimination of Syria’s chemical weapons.
“Assad’s recent attack and today’s response are the direct result of Russia’s failure to keep that promise,” the president said.
“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. Hopefully, someday we’ll get along with Russia and maybe even Iran, but maybe not.”
“Tonight I ask all Americans to say a prayer for our noble warriors and our allies as they carry out their missions. We pray that God will bring comfort to those suffering in Syria,” the president said in closing. “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.”
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