Trump-Ordered Missile Strike Hits Damascus

The operation was launched with France and the UK after a suspected chemical attack.

Susan Walsh/AP

Update 10:50 pm: Defense Secretary James Mattis briefed reporters on the strike Friday night, noting that the operation was “right now a one-time shot,” but would not rule out further action. Mattis said he was “absolutely confident” Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was behind last weekend’s chemical attack. The Pentagon will provide more information on Saturday.

“Together we have sent a clear message to Assad and his murderous lieutenants that they should not perpetrate another chemical weapons attack for which they will be held accountable,” Mattis said

President Trump approved US military strikes on Syria in an address to the nation Friday evening.  A little after 9pm in Washington, there were reports of strikes on Damascus. The operation was launched in coordination with France and the UK. 

The strike comes less than a week after a suspected chemical weapons attack by the Syrian government on a suburb of Damascus that killed about 70 people and injured more than 500. President Trump has been threatening military retaliation against the Syrian government for the past week, and calling out Russia and Iran for supporting the Syrian regime. The White House said earlier today that it had “very high confidence” that the Syrian government was responsible for the attack. This marks the second time that the president has used force in response to a chemical attack in Syria.

“The purpose of our actions tonight is to establish a strong deterrent against the production, spread and use of chemical weapons,” President Trump said Friday night in his address, calling the attack “evil and despicable” and a “significant escalation” in a pattern of chemical weapons use by President Bashar al-Assad. “These are not the actions of a man,” Trump said. “They are crimes of a monster instead.”

Trump made the point that it was in the national security interest to deter the production of chemical weapons. “We are prepared to sustain this response until the Syrian regime stops its use of prohibited chemical agents,” he said. The president also addressed Iran and Russia directly, asking the two Assad allies: “What kind of a nation wants to be associated with the mass murder of innocent men, women, and children?”