U.S. President Donald Trump said on Thursday he ordered missile strikes against a Syrian airbase from which a deadly chemical attack was launched.
The chemical attack this week in Syria left more than 70 people including many children dead in the town of Khan Sheikhoun.
“Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad launched a horrible chemical weapons attack on innocent civilians. Using a deadly nerve agent, Assad choked out the lives of helpless men, women and children. It was a slow and brutal death for so many. Even beautiful babies were cruelly murdered in this very barbaric attack,” Trump said in a statement.
“Tonight, I ordered a targeted military strike on the airfield in Syria from where the chemical attack was launched,” according to the statement. “It is in this vital national security interest of the United States to prevent and deter the spread and use of deadly weapons.”
Following the order, two U.S. warships fired dozens of cruise missiles from Mediterranean Sea at the airbase held by President Bashar al-Assad’s forces in response to the poison attack.
At least five Syrian soldiers were reported to have been killed in the attack.
Pentagon said that the strike severely damaged or destroyed Syrian aircraft and support infrastructure and equipment at Shayrat Airfield, reducing the Syrian government’s ability to deliver chemical weapons.
Trump’s action signals major break not only with previous U.S. administration but also with statements made during presidential elections.
It also marks toughest direct U.S. action in Syria’s six-year-old civil war, raising the risk of confrontation with Russia and Iran, who are Assad’s two main backers.
Russia’s deputy U.N. envoy, Vladimir Safronkov, earlier warned of negative consequence if U.S. carries out military strikes on Syria over the gas attack.
Iran condemned the strike while Britain and Australia voiced support.