Hannah Parry, Francesca Chambers and David Martosko — Dailymail.com April 7, 2017
President Donald Trump launched a deadly US airstrike against a Syrian air base after a horrific nerve gas attack which killed more than 80 of his own citizens.
The US military fired 59 tomahawk missiles at the Bashar al-Assad controlled al-Shayrat military airfield near Homs at 8.45pm (EDT) on Thursday, killing at least five and injuring many more.
President Trump, speaking from his Mar-a-Lago estate where he is hosting the Chinese President Xi Jinping and his wife Peng as part of a two day summit, said the US had to act after the Syrian dictator launched the ‘horrible chemical weapons attack’ on innocent civilians.
‘Even beautiful babies were cruelly murdered in this very barbaric attack,’ he said. ‘It was a slow and brutal death for so many.’
Pentagon officials said that the airfield was being used to store chemical weapons and was a base for Syrian air forces – including the aircraft that conducted the chemical weapons attack. Early reports indicate the strike has severely damaged or destroyed the aircraft and support infrastructure, while at least five people were killed.
A Syrian official claimed the attack killed three soldiers and two civilians, while a Syrian opposition monitor said it killed four soldiers, including a general. Talal Barazi, the governor of Homs province, said seven others were wounded in the early Friday attack.
The Pentagon has released dramatic footage of one of its missile launches from USS Ross, an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, targeting the Syrian base.
A Pentagon official told DailyMail.com that the president ‘is dead-set against letting Assad labor under the illusion that the Syrian army can murder innocent people with impunity.’
‘We’ve laid down a marker. No more chemical weapons attacks, period. There will be consequences. Our president is showing his American conscience, and if anyone provokes him they will regret it.’
The official said the Trump administration hopes Assad ‘will change his ways.’
The longtime Pentagon veteran said he was in the chain of command that led to Thursday night’s attacks, but couldn’t predict what might come next.
‘We’ve got a new president,’ he said. ‘And that means none of our adversaries knows how he will react to any given situation. That’s a huge advantage that Assad may not have considered.’
The strikes have won broad international support with officials saying that Canada and other allies were behind the move.
Israel’s prime minister also welcomed the US attack saying he ‘fully supports’ President Trump’s decision.
Benjamin Netanyahu said Friday that ‘in both word and action’ Trump ‘sent a strong and clear message’ that ‘the use and spread of chemical weapons will not be tolerated.’
Britain has also backed the US missile strike, describing it as an ‘appropriate response’, as the government offered its full support to Trump’s targeted assault.
A No 10 spokeswoman said: ‘The UK Government fully supports the US action, which we believe was an appropriate response to the barbaric chemical weapons attack launched by the Syrian regime, and is intended to deter further attacks.’
However, Russia has denounced the strike as an ‘act of aggression against a UN member’ and warned that the move could end cooperation between the Russian and US military branches.
It is an act of ‘aggression against a sovereign state in violation of international law’, the Kremlin added.
Viktor Ozerov, head of the defense committee in the Russian Federation Council, told state news agency RIA that the US strikes ‘may undermine the efforts in the fight against terrorism in Syria.’
‘Russia will demand an urgent UN Security Council meeting after the US airstrike on Syrian aviation base. This is an act of aggression against a UN member.’
During his public address from his Mar-a-Lago estate, Trump said that it was ‘vital’ to the 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 UN security council,’ he said. ‘Years of previous attempts at changing Assad’s behavior have all failed and failed very dramatically.
‘As a result, the refugee crisis continues to deepen and the region continues to destabilize, threatening the United States and its allies.
‘Tonight I call on all civilized nations to join us in seeking to end the slaughter and bloodshed in Syria and also to end terrorism of all kinds and all types.’
Despite repeated questions, neither Secretary of State Rex Tillerson nor National Security Adviser HR McMaster would confirm whether China’s Xi Jinping was informed of the strike ahead of time.
However officials confirmed to AFP that Trump had informed Xi personally of the Syria strike before it occurred.
U.S. Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham said in a joint statement that the administration plans to ‘learn the lessons of history’ and follow the strikes with a ‘new, comprehensive strategy in coordination with our allies and partners to end the conflict in Syria.’
‘The first measure in such a strategy must be to take Assad’s air force—which is responsible not just for the latest chemical weapons attack, but countless atrocities against the Syrian people—completely out of the fight,’ they said. ‘We must also bolster support for the vetted Syrian opposition and establish safe zones to address the ongoing humanitarian crisis. As we do, we can and must continue the campaign to achieve ISIS’s lasting defeat.’