Donald Trump ordered retaliatory strikes on Syrian targets Friday, less than one week after President Bashar al-Assad was suspected of launching a chemical attack outside of Damascus, resulting in more than 40 civilian deaths. The strikes will be coordinated with France and the United Kingdom.
POTUS announced the order during an address to the nation.
“The evil and the despicable attack left mothers and fathers, infants and children thrashing in pain and gasping for air. These are not the actions of a man. They are crimes of a monster instead,” Trump said. “[…] 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. We pray that god will guide the whole region toward a future of dignity and of peace.”
Trump has hinted at military action in Syria for the past week, and has also called out Russia and Iran for supporting “a terrible regime” that continues to conduct gruesome chemical attacks on civilians. On Wednesday, Trump warned Russia to prepare for U.S. missiles “because they will be coming, nice and new and ‘smart!’” he tweeted. “You shouldn’t be partners with a Gas Killing Animal who kills his people and enjoys it!”
After days of deliberation with military officials and national security advisers, Trump seemed to walk back on his initial threats of striking Syria, tweeting: “Never said when an attack on Syria would take place. Could be very soon or not so soon at all!”
Syria and Russia have denied any involvement in the alleged chemical attack, and have accused rebels in the region of fabricating these claims, according to CNN. Assad warned that any military action by Western nations would increase instability within Syria.
This is the second time in just over a year that Trump has ordered an attack on Syria in response to Assad’s suspected use of chemical weapons. The last missile strike occurred in April 2017.