President Trump says he has ordered US forces to launch precision strikes against chemical weapons facilities of Bashar al-Assad in Syria https://t.co/toWWExlV9K
— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) April 14, 2018
Less than a week after a suspected chemical weapons attack against civilians in Ghouta, Syria killed nearly 100 people, President Trump has decided to launch a series of airstrikes against the pro-Syrian forces of President Bashar al-Assad. During a brief address late Friday night, Trump said that he had “ordered the United States armed forces to launch precision strikes on targets associated with the chemical weapon capabilities of Syrian dictator of Bashar al-Assad. A combined operation with the armed forces of France and the United Kingdom is now underway. We thank them both.”
Friday night’s announcement came just over a year after the Trump administration launched a massive missile strike on Syria following another chemical weapons attack. Citing this in his remarks, the president explained, “The purpose of our actions tonight is to establish a strong deterrent against the production, spread and use of chemical weapons. Establishing this deterrent is a vital national security interest of the United States. The combined American, British, and French response to these atrocities will integrate all instruments of our national power — military, economic, and diplomatic.”
As Russia’s involvement in the ongoing Syrian conflict, Trump name-dropped them and Iran in his speech. Decrying them as “the two governments most responsible” for supporting al-Assad, he asked of Iran and Russia’s leaders, “What kind of a nation wants to be associated with a mass murderer of innocent men, women and children?” He then turned to Russia specifically, saying they “must decide if it will continue down this dark path or if it will join with civilized nations as a force for stability and peace. Hopefully, someday we’ll get along with Russia and maybe even Iran, but maybe not.”
Following Sunday’s gas attack in the rebel-held Syrian town, which came just after Trump had “reluctantly agreed” to keep U.S. troops on the ground in the region for the time being, the president cancelled a planned overseas trip to monitor the situation. He then teased Russian officials on Twitter, though they subsequently opted not to engage in Trump’s “Twitter diplomacy” when asked about it. The Kremlin then labeled reports of the alleged chemical weapons attack as nothing more than a “fabrication” by foreign influences.