Hours before President Donald Trump ordered the U.S. military to attack Syria with cruise missiles, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called for such a strike to take place.
Speaking April 6 at the "Women in the World" summit in New York City, Clinton expressed her view that the U.S. should "take out" Syrian airfields.
"Assad has an air force, and that air force is the cause of most of these civilian deaths as we have seen over the years and as we saw again in the last few days," she said, according to CNN. "And I really believe that we should have and still should take out his air fields and prevent him from being able to use them to bomb innocent people and drop sarin gas on them."
Clinton's comments came two days after toxic gas was used to attack the Syrian province of Idlib, killing dozens of people and injuring hundreds. The U.S. has blamed the attack on the forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, while the Syrian and Russian governments say the gas was released after an airstrike hit a chemical weapons factory owned by the rebels.
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"I still believe we should have done a no-fly zone," Clinton added, reiterating what she said during the presidential election. "We should have been more willing to confront Assad."
Hours later, more than 50 tomahawk cruise missiles struck a Syrian airbase. According to Trump, the base had been used to launch the chemical attack
"It was a slow and brutal death for so many," Trump said of the gassing, according to Politico. "Even beautiful babies were cruelly murdered in this very barbaric attack. No child of God should ever suffer such horror."
Trump's unilateral military action was condemned by Russia as an act of "aggression."
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"President [Vladimir] Putin views the U.S. strikes on Syria as aggression against a sovereign state in violation of the norms of international law and on a made-up up pretext," the Kremlin said in a statement, according to Reuters. "This step by Washington will inflict major damage on U.S.-Russia ties."
The Syrian government announced that it would respond to the attack by stepping up its efforts against the rebels.
"This aggression has increased Syria's resolve to hit those terrorist agents, to continue to crush them, and to raise the pace of action to that end wherever they are," Assad's office said in a statement.
Meanwhile, the U.S. State Department emphasized that the cruise missile strike did not signify a major shift in U.S. policy or an escalation of the conflict.
"This clearly indicates the president is willing to take decisive action when called for," Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said. "I would not in any way attempt to extrapolate that to a change in our policy or our posture relative to our military activities in Syria today. There has been no change in that status."