US unleashes dozens of missiles on Syria in response to chemical attack
(New York Post) The US fired a more than 50 cruise missiles at Syrian air fields Thursday night in response to the Assad regime’s devastating gas attacks against civilians earlier this week.
President Donald Trump authorised the strikes on two airfields in the Western part of the country that had apparently been used to launch the deadly gas attacks.
Speaking from his resort in Florida, Trump said the attack was in the nation’s “vital national security interest” and that the US must “prevent and deter the spread and use of deadly chemical weapons.”
Trump added that there is “no dispute that Syria used banned chemical weapons.”
About 60 tomahawk cruise missiles were fired from a number of warships stationed in the Mediterranean Sea.
Trump had been critical of the idea of taking military action in the region, but reportedly changed his mind this week when confronted with the graphic evidence of Syrian children who were victims of the deadly attack by an apparent nerve agent.
Trump, speaking aboard an Air Force One flight to Florida earlier in the day, blasted the chemical attack in Syria as “a disgrace to humanity.”
“What Assad did is terrible. What happened in Syria is truly one of the egregious crimes and it shouldn’t have happened. And it shouldn’t be allow to happen,” he said.
“He’s [Assad] there, and I guess he’s running things, so I guess something should happen.”
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Thursday that “steps are underway” to build an international coalition to remove Syrian President Bashar al-Assad — as Pentagon officials prepared to brief President Trump on options for a military strike against his regime.
“Assad’s role in the future is uncertain, clearly, and with the acts that he has taken, it would seem that there would be no role for him to govern the Syrian people,” Tillerson said.
Both Tillerson and Trump singled out Assad as the one responsible for the poison-gas attack this week that killed at least 86 people, including dozens of women and children.
Autopsies on several victims show they were exposed to sarin gas, a banned nerve agent that’s highly toxic, the Turkish Health Ministry said.
“There is no doubt in our minds, and the information we have supports that Syria, the Syria regime under the leadership of President Bashar al-Assad are responsible for this attack,” Tillerson said.
He added that the process to remove Assad would require “an international community effort.”
The situation in Syria is complicated by the fact that Russian forces are actively involved in the civil war in Syria, helping Assad’s forces.
Russia and their leader Vladimir Putin are strong supporters of the Assad government and have resisted any efforts to remove him.
The Al Shayrat airfield that was targeted in the attack had no Russian planes and no Russian facilities were targeted, the New York Times reported.