WASHINGTON: The United States on Thursday launched a military strike on the Syrian government target in response to their chemical weapon attack on the civilians few days before.
Said to be carried out on President Donald Trump’s orders, U.S. warships launched between 50-60 Tomahawk cruise missiles at the Syria Government airbase where the warplanes that carried out the chemical attacks were based, U.S. officials said, CNN reports.
“Tonight, I ordered a targeted military strike on the air field in Syria from where the chemical attack was launched,” Trump said during short remarks to reporters at Mar-a-Lago. “It is in this vital national security 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. Years of previous attempts at changing Assad’s behavior have all failed and failed very dramatically,” he added.
Strikes are over “until another decision is made,” the official said.
The strikes are the first direct military action the U.S. has taken against the leadership of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the country’s six-year civil war and represent a substantial escalation of the US’ military campaign in the region, which could be interpreted by the Syrian government as an act of war.
Earlier, Trump said the chemical attack on Syria’s Idlib province affected his deeply and tranformed his thinking about the Syrian president Bashar al-Assad.
“I will tell you that attack on children yesterday had a big impact on me – big impact. My attitude toward Syria and Assad has changed very much. You’re now talking about a whole different level,” the Guardian quoted Trump as saying.
When asked if he would opt for military intervention to oust Assad, Trump said, “I’m not saying I’m doing anything one way or another, but I’m certainly not going to be telling you . Militarily, I don’t like to say where I’m going and what I’m doing.”
Dozens of people, including at least ten children, were killed and over 200 injured as a result of asphyxiation caused by exposure to an unknown gas on Tuesday.
According to Anas al-Diab, an activist with the Aleppo Media Center, airstrikes hit the city of Khan Sheikhoun in Idlib province giving off a poisonous gas that led to this asphyxiation.
Three more strikes hit the same city center location but did not result in any gas, al-Diab added.
Activists said the Syrian regime dropped a chemical bomb and was responsible for the killings, leading the United Nations to replace a scheduled Security Council session for Wednesday morning with an emergency meeting.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s military denied using chemical weapons and blamed rebels for the carnage.
The death toll is said to be at least 67, according to al-Diab, while the U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has reported it to be 58.
The High Negotiations Committee claimed the death toll could be as high as 100 with up to 400 injured.