In the first direct U.S. military action against Syria during the country's six-year civil war, President Donald Trump ordered a targeted attack on a Syrian air base from his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida.
The strike began around 8:40 p.m. EDT on April 6, lasting only a few minutes, as 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles hit the Al Shayrat airfield in Homs Province in western Syria. The air base is thought to be where Syrian President Bashar Assad's government launched a chemical attack on civilians on April 4, killing at least 100 people.
"Tonight, I ordered a targeted military strike on the airfield in Syria from where the chemical attack was launched," Trump told reporters at Mar-a-Lago hours after the targeted strike, reports KSAZ. "It is in this vital national security interest of the United States to prevent and deter the spread and use of deadly chemical weapons."
"There can be no dispute that Syria used banned chemical weapons, violated its obligations under the Chemical Weapons Convention and ignored the urging of the U.N. Security Council," the president added. "Years of previous attempts at changing Assad's behavior have all failed and failed very dramatically."
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White House press secretary Sean Spicer posted a picture to Twitter that was taken minutes after the missile strike, which shows Trump in a makeshift situation room at Mar-a-Lago. The sign on the door says "quiet area" and the room is filled with Trump's cabinet members and personal advisers seated in the Mar-a-Lago resort's dining chairs.
Trump opposed taking military action against the Syrian government during his election campaign, but this shift in position is not a complete surprise after the president's reaction to the chemical gas attack on civilians earlier in the week.
"It crossed a lot of lines for me," Trump said at a news conference, reports The Associated Press. "When you kill children. Innocent babies. Babies. Little Babies. With a chemical gas that is so lethal that people were shocked to hear what gas it was. That crosses many, many lines, beyond the red line. Many, many lines. And I will tell you that attack on children had a big impact on me. Big impact."
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"That was a horrible, horrible thing," he added. "And I’ve been watching it and seeing it. And it doesn’t get any worse than that. And I have that flexibility. And it’s very, very possible and I will tell you it’s already happened that my attitude toward Syria and Assad has changed very much."
Reports suggest that up to nine people were killed in the U.S. missile strike against Assad's regime, including four children.
At a luncheon in Houston on April 7, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton commented on the airstrike, saying that a broader strategy going forward will be necessary to end Syria's civil war, reports the Houston Chronicle. She added that the attack on Syria "reminds us, and certainly the last 100 days are a reminder, that politics matter enormously."
Sources: KSAZ/YouTube, AP/YouTube, Houston Chronicle / Photo credit: Press Secretary Sean Spicer/Twitter, Press Secretary Sean Spicer/Twitter via Daily Mail