Donald Trump hailed a ‘perfectly executed strike’ after he authorized a series of missile attacks against Syria in response to the Assad regime’s chemical attack against its own people.
The president wrote on Twitter on Saturday morning: ‘Thank you to France and the United Kingdom for their wisdom and the power of their fine Military. Could not have had a better result. Mission Accomplished!’
He added: ‘So proud of our great Military which will soon be, after the spending of billions of fully approved dollars, the finest that our Country has ever had. There won’t be anything, or anyone, even close!’
A ‘large part’ of the Syrian regime’s chemical arsenal was destroyed during co-ordinated strikes by America, the UK and France on facilities known to be used in the production of the deadly weapons.
American, British and French forces launched airstrikes on two chemical weapons facilities and a military command post in Syria on Friday night in retaliation for a chemical attack that left up 75 civilians dead last week.
French foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said on Saturday morning: ‘A large part of its chemical arsenal has been destroyed. A lot has been destroyed in last night’s strikes.’
While no further strikes have been planned, Le Drian refused to rule out a further attack if Assad crossed the ‘red line’ of using chemical weapons again.
He said: ‘On the question of chemical weapons, there is a red line that must not be crossed, and if it should be crossed again, there will be another intervention. But I think the lesson has been learned.’
It comes after Trump addressed the U.S. while British Prime Minister Theresa May and President Emmanuel Macron both gave speeches justifying the use of force in response to the ‘evil and despicable’ poison gas attack.
Trump spoke in a national address at 9pm ET last night as missiles rained down on three sites across Syria. He said he ordered the precision strikes in direct retaliation to Bashar al-Assad’s ‘evil and despicable’ poison gas attack on the rebel-held town of Douma.
Donald Trump hailed a ‘perfectly executed strike’ just hours after launching a series of attacks on Syria. He wrote on Twitter on Saturday morning: ‘Thank you to France and the United Kingdom for their wisdom and the power of their fine Military. Could not have had a better result. Mission Accomplished!’
He added: ‘So proud of our great Military which will soon be, after the spending of billions of fully approved dollars, the finest that our Country has ever had. There won’t be anything, or anyone, even close!’
The president is pictured addressing the nation on Friday evening from the Diplomatic Room of the White House, announcing retaliatory airstrikes on Syria. He said he ordered the precision strikes in direct retaliation to Bashar al-Assad’s ‘evil and despicable’ poison gas attack on the rebel-held town of Douma
The Damascus sky lights up with missile fire as the US, Britain and France launch an attack on Syria
Damascus skies erupt with anti-aircraft fire after Donald Trump announced the strikes on Syria on Friday night ET
A cruise missile is pictured being launched from a French military vessel in the Mediterranean sea towards targets in Syria
Part of the calculation this week has also been gaming out how Russia will respond either in the region or around the world
Shortly after the attack, the Syrian presidency posted on Twitter: ‘Honorable souls cannot be humiliated.’
State TV said the country’s air defenses shot down 13 missiles in the Kiswah area south of Damascus and claimed three civilians were wounded in the attack on a military base in Homs.
The assault by the United States consisted of more than 100 missiles, the Pentagon indicated, with Secretary of Defense James Mattis describing the number as ‘a little over double the number of weapons’ that were used in last year’s air assault on Syria.
The April 7, 2017 attack on a Syrian airbase after Assad’s last confirmed use of chemical weapons consisted of 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles.
Mattis said the latest round of strikes ‘sent a very strong message’ to Assad and his ‘murderous lieutenants’ and that ‘right now this is a one-time shot’ driving home a message that conflicted with the president’s.
‘That will depend on Mr. Assad should he decide to use more chemical weapons in the future,’ he said.
In a news conference that followed Trump’s remarks, Mattis confirmed that chlorine gas, and possibly sarin, was used to poison Syrians a week ago.
Syria air defenses strike back after air strikes by U.S., British and French forces in Damascus
A fighter jet lands at Akrotiri military British Royal Air Force Base, Cyprus, on Saturday, April 14
A fighter jet prepares to land at RAF Akrotiri, a military base Britain maintains on Cyprus
An RAF Tornado comes into land at RAF Akrotiri after concluding its mission.Four Royal Air Force Tornado’s took off to conduct strikes
Smoke rises above Damascus after the air strikes. The US, Britain and France waged up to 120 air strikes
Smoke rises over the capital Damascus after air strikes struck Syria early Saturday, April 14, local time
Trump said the purpose of the U.S.-led strike was to ‘establish a strong deterrent against the production, spread and use’ of such chemical weapons. But he said America does not seek ‘an indefinite presence’ in Syria and looks forward to the day when it can withdraw its troops from Syria.
In a statement, British Prime Minister Theresa May described the coalition air assault as a ‘limited and targeted strike that does not further escalate tensions in the region.’
‘And while this action is specifically about deterring the Syrian regime, it will also send a clear signal to anyone else who believes they can use chemical weapons with impunity,’ she said.
French President Emmanuel Macron said the ‘red line’ set by France in May of 2017 ‘had been crossed.’
‘We cannot tolerate the trivialization of chemical weapons, which is an immediate danger for the Syrian people and our collective security,’ Macron said. ‘This is the direction of the diplomatic initiatives put forward by France at the United Nations Security Council.’
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis (right) and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford (second from right) brief members of the media on Syria at the Pentagon
A photo released on the Twitter page of the Syrian governments central military media shows anti-aircraft fire through a night-vision device on the outskirts of Damascus
Loud explosions rocked Syria’s capital and and lit up the sky with heavy smoke. Hours later crowds of Assad supporters gathered in the center of Damascus in a show of defiance.
Hundreds of residents gathered in Omayyad Square, many waving Syrian, Russian and Iranian flags. Some clapped their hands and danced, others drove in convoys, honking their horns.
‘We are your men, Bashar,’ they shouted.
General Joseph Dunford said that all three areas the coalition ‘struck and destroyed’ were specific to the Syrian regime’s chemical weapons program.
The scientific research center was used for the development and testing of chemical and biological warfare technology, he said. Another target, a storage facility west of Homs, was a primary location for sarin and precursor production equipment. The third target was a chemical weapons equipment storage facility and an important command force.
Dunford said the attack was carried out by U.S., British and French entrenched naval and air forces were involved in the operation, but for operational security, he would not be more specific than that.
The U.S. and the U.K. emphasized that steps had been taken to minimize civilian casualties.
French President Emmanuel Macron said the Assad regime ‘crossed a red line’ with the chemical attack in Douma. He is pictured centre with close advisers
British Prime Minister Theresa May described the coalition air assault as a ‘limited and targeted strike that does not further escalate tensions in the region’
‘We are prepared to sustain this response until the Syrian regime stops its use of prohibited chemical agents,’ Trump in his address said.
He also said in the remarks that lasted a little more than eight minutes that he had a message for ‘two governments most responsible for supporting, equipping and financing the criminal Assad regime’ – Iran and Russia.
‘In 2013 President Putin and his government promised the world they would guarantee the elimination of Syria’s chemical weapons. Assad’s recent attack and today’s response are the direct result of Russia’s failure to keep that promise,’ he said. ‘Russia 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.’
He added, ‘Hopefully someday we’ll get along with Russia, and maybe even Iran, but maybe not. I will say this, the United States has a lot to offer with the greatest and most powerful economy in the history of the world.’
Iran’s Foreign Ministry on Saturday strongly condemned the attacks on Syria and said Washington and its allies would bear the responsibility of the raids’ consequences in the region and beyond, Iranian state media reported.
‘Undoubtedly, the United States and its allies, which took military action against Syria despite the absence of any proven evidence… will assume the responsibility for the regional and trans-regional consequences of this adventurism,’ Iran’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement carried by state media.
Russian lawmaker and the deputy head of Russia’s foreign affairs committee Vladimir Dzhabarov said Russia was likely to call for a meeting of the United Nations security council to discuss the air strikes.
‘The situation is being analysed right now. Russia will demand a meeting of the U.N. security council, I am sure.’
Donald Trump said on Friday evening he had ordered ‘precision strikes’ on Syria in retaliation for the ‘evil and despicable’ poison gas attack that killed at least 60 people on April 7 (a young victim is pictured)
A child receives oxygen through a respirator following a poison gas attack in the rebel-held town of Douma
A poison gas attack killed up to 75 people that the U.S. and its allies say was carried out by Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad on April 7 in Douma near Damascus
‘These are not the actions of a man. They are crimes of a monster instead,’ Trump said referring to Assad (pictured)
Trump also warned Russia and Iran about their association with the Syrian government. President Putin is pictured on April 12
PRESIDENT TRUMP’S FRIDAY NIGHT ADDRESS TO THE NATION
My fellow Americans: a short time ago I ordered the United States armed forces to launch precision strikes on targets associated with the chemical weapons capabilities of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad. A combined operation with the armed forces of France and the United Kingdom is now underway. We thank them both.
Tonight I want to speak with you about why we have taken this action. One year ago, Assad launched a savage chemical weapons attack against his own innocent people. The United States responded with 58 missile strikes that destroyed 20 percent of the Syrian air force.
Last Saturday, the Assad regime again deployed chemical weapons to slaughter innocent civilians, this time in the town of Douma near the Syrian capital of Damascus.
This massacre was a significant escalation in a pattern of chemical weapons use by the very terrible regime. the evil and despicable attack left mothers and fathers, infants and children thrashing in pain and gasping for air.
These are not the actions of a man. They are crimes of a monster, instead.
Following the horrors of World War I a century ago, civilized nations joined together to ban chemical warfare. Chemical weapons are uniquely dangerous not only because they inflict gruesome suffering but because even small amounts can unleash widespread devastation.
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.
We are prepared to sustain this response until the Syrian regime stops its use of prohibited chemical agents. I also have a message tonight for two governments most responsible for supporting, equipping and financing the criminal Assad regime.
To Iran and to Russia I ask, what kind of a nation wants to be associated with the mass murder of innocent men, women and children? The nations of the world can be judged by the friends they keep. No nation can succeed in the long run by promoting rogue states, brutal tyrants and murderous dictators.
In 2013 President Putin and his government promised the world they would guarantee the elimination of Syria’s chemical weapons. Assad’s recent attack and today’s response are the direct result of Russia’s failure to keep that promise. Russia 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 some day we’ll get along with Russia and maybe even Iran, but maybe not. I will say this, the United States has a lot to offer with the greatest and most powerful economy in the history of the world.
In Syria the United States with but a small force being used to eliminate what is left of ISIS is doing what is necessary to protect the American people. Over the last year, nearly 100 percent of the territory once controlled by the so-called ISIS caliphate in Syria and Iraq has been liberated and eliminated.
The United States has also rebuilt our friendships across the Middle East. We have asked our partners to take greater responsibility for securing their home region, including contributing large amounts of money for the resources, equipment and all of the anti-ISIS effort. Increased engagement from our friends, including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Egypt and others can ensure that Iran does not profit from the eradication of ISIS.
America does not seek an indefinite presence in Syria. Under no circumstances. As other nations step up their contributions, we look forward to the day when we can bring our warriors home and great warriors they are.
Looking around our very troubled world, Americans have no illusions. We cannot purge the world of evil or act everywhere there is tyranny. No amount of American blood or treasure can produce lasting peace and security in the Middle East. It’s a troubled place. We will try to make it better, but it is a troubled place. The United States will be a partner and a friend, but the fate of the region lies in the hands of its own people.
In the last century, we looked straight into the darkest places of the human soul. We saw the anguish that can be unleashed and the evil that can take hold. By the end of World War I, more than 1 million people had been killed or injured by chemical weapons. We never want to see that ghastly specter return.
So today, the nations of Britain, France and the United States of America have marshalled their righteous power against barbarism and brutality. Tonight I ask all Americans to say a prayer for our noble warriors and our allies as they carry out their missions.
We pray that God will bring comfort to those suffering in Syria. We pray that God there guide the whole region toward a future of dignity and of peace. And we pray that God will continue to watch over and bless the United States of America. Thank you, and good night. Thank you
Meanwhile Russia’s Ambassador to the United States warned the White House on Friday that military strikes against its ally ‘will not be left without consequences’.
‘Insulting the President of Russia is unacceptable and inadmissible,’ the ambassador continued. ‘The U.S. – the possessor of the biggest arsenal of chemical weapons – has no moral right to blame other countries,’ he added.
Alexander Sherin, deputy head of the State Duma’s defense committee, said Trump ‘can be called Adolf Hitler No. 2 of our time – because, you see, he even chose the time that Hitler attacked the Soviet Union,’ according to state news agency RIA-Novosti.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova, in a statement on Facebook, said the US struck Syria when the country finally had a chance at peace.
‘One must be really exceptional to strike Syria’s capital when the country finally got a chance for a peaceful future,’ she wrote.
Israeli officials backed the move with an unnamed spokesman telling Reuters that three allies were right to enforce the ban on chemical warfare.
‘Last year, President Trump made clear that the use of chemical weapons crosses a red line. Tonight, under American leadership, the United States, France and the United Kingdom enforced that line,’ the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
‘Syria continues to engage in and provide a base for murderous actions, including those of Iran, that put its territory, its forces and its leadership at risk.’
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also backed the attack: ‘Canada condemns in the strongest possible terms the use of chemical weapons in last week’s attack in eastern Ghouta, Syria.
‘Canada supports the decision by the United States, the United Kingdom, and France to take action to degrade the Assad regime’s ability to launch chemical weapons attacks against its own people. We will continue to work with our international partners to further investigate the use of chemical weapons in Syria. Those responsible must be brought to justice.’
Syrian government supporters wave Syrian, Iranian and Russian flags as they chant slogans against U.S. President Trump during demonstrations
Syrian government supporters chant slogans against U.S. President Trump during demonstrations in Damascus following the strikes
Protesters stand outside Trump Tower demonstrating against military strikes in Syria, late on Friday in New York
US strikes had been expected since harrowing footage surfaced of the aftermath of the toxic gas attack in the Damascus suburb of Douma a week ago. Trump had reacted with a tweet warning Assad and his allies that the action would not go unchecked.
‘Many dead, including women and children, in mindless CHEMICAL attack in Syria,’ he declared. ‘President Putin, Russia and Iran are responsible for backing Animal Assad. Big price to pay.’
Trump told reporters that the list of people he’d punish included Russian President Vladimir Putin, if appropriate.
‘Everybody’s gonna pay a price. He will. Everybody will,’ the U.S. president said.
After Russia rejected a U.S.-sponsored resolution authorizing a probe of the gas attack and vowed to shoot down U.S. missiles fired upon Syria, Trump took aim at the Kremlin.
‘Get ready Russia, because they will be coming, nice and new and “smart!” You shouldn’t be partners with a Gas Killing Animal who kills his people and enjoys it!’ Trump tweeted.
The White House left the possibility of direct, military engagement with Russia after the tweet.
Russia’s deputy prime minister, Arkady Dvorkovich, just brushed the rebuke off, however, saying, according to state media, ‘We cannot depend on the mood of someone on the other side of the ocean when he wakes up, on what a specific person takes into his head in the morning.’
The French presidency on Saturday released a video on Twitter showing what it said were Rafale war planes taking off to attack targets in Syria
It was not immediately clear whether the planes were taking off from an aircraft carrier or a military base on land in video released by the French presidency
Moscow has claimed all along that the chemical weapons attack did not take place and on Friday that it had ‘irrefutable evidence’ that it had been fabricated.
The U.S. meanwhile joined France and the U.K. in pointing the finger for the attack – and their missiles – directly at Assad’s forces.
Mattis said Friday evening that he was ‘confident’ that Assad’s regime conducted a chemical weapons attack.
Nikki Haley, the U.S. Ambassador to the UN, said at an emergency meeting of the Security Council, ‘We know who did this. Our allies know who did this. Russia can complain all it wants about fake news, but no one is buying its lies and cover-ups.’
Defense Secretary James Mattis’ statement
Good evening. As the world knows, the Syrian people have suffered terribly under the prolonged brutality of the Assad regime.
On April 7th, the regime decided to again defy the norms of civilized people, showing callous disregard for international law by using chemical weapons to murder women, children and other innocents.
We and our allies find these atrocities inexcusable. As our commander in chief, the president has the authority under Article II of the Constitution to use military force overseas to defend important U.S. national interests.
Defense Secretary James Mattis says the U.S. and its allies have taken ‘decisive action’ against Syrian chemical weapons infrastructure
The United States has an important national interest in averting a worsening humanitarian catastrophe in Syria, and specifically deterring the use and proliferation of chemical weapons.
Last year, in response to a chemical weapons attack against civilians and to signal the regime to cease chemical weapons use, we targeted the military base from which the weapons were delivered.
Earlier today, President Trump directed the U.S. military to conduct operations, in consonance with our allies, to destroy the Syrian regime’s chemical weapons research, development and production capabilities.
Tonight, France, the United Kingdom and the United States took decisive action to strike the Syrian chemical weapons infrastructure.
Clearly, the Assad regime did not get the message last year. This time, our allies and we have struck harder.
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.
The 70 nations in the defeat ISIS coalition remain committed to defeating ISIS in Syria.
The strike tonight separately demonstrates international resolve to prevent chemical weapons from being used on anyone, under any circumstance, in contravention of international law.
I want to emphasize that these strikes are directed at the Syrian regime. In conducting these strikes, we have gone to great lengths to avoid civilian and foreign casualties. But it is time for all civilized nations to urgently unite in ending the Syrian civil war by supporting the United Nations backed Geneva peace process.
In accordance with the chemical weapons convention prohibiting the use of such weapons, we urge responsible nations to condemn the Assad regime and join us in our firm resolve to prevent chemical weapons from being used again.
General Dunford will provide a military update.
Based on recent experience, we fully expect a significant disinformation campaign over the coming days by those who have aligned themselves with the Assad regime.
In an effort to maintain transparency and accuracy, my assistant for public affairs, Dana White, and Lt. Gen. McKenzie, director of the Joint Staff, will provide a brief of known details tomorrow at 9:00 a.m.
The Friday night assault earned tepid support from Democrats in Congress who said they are awaiting additional information from the Trump administration about the targets and goals of the strike.
Sen. Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the upper chamber’s Intelligence Committee, said, ‘While the U.S. and our allies must not turn a blind eye to Assad’s vile and inhumane attacks against his own citizens, military action in Syria must be measured, as part of a coherent strategy to prevent Assad from using chemical weapons without further destabilizing an already-volatile region or inadvertently expanding the conflict.’
Nancy Pelosi, the House minority leader, said, that Assad’s weapons attack was a ‘brutally inhumane war crime that demands a strong, smart and calculated response.
But she argued, ‘One night of airstrikes is not a substitute for a clear, comprehensive Syria strategy.
‘The President must come to Congress and secure an Authorization for Use of Military Force by proposing a comprehensive strategy with clear objectives that keep our military safe and avoid collateral damage to innocent civilians,’ the leading House Democrat insisted in a statement. ‘President Trump must also hold Putin accountable for his enabling of the Assad regime’s atrocities against the Syrian people.’
Vice President Mike Pence briefed Pelosi and other congressional leaders in Congress after skipping a reception and rushing back to his hotel in Lima, Peru.
House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell received calls notifying them of the action before the president’s address, his communications director, Jarrod Agen, said. So did Pelosi. Pence was unable to reach Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer until afterward, because the top-ranking Democrat was on a flight.
The vice president was attending a summit in Peru in Trump’s stead on Friday. Trump called off his trip as he mulled how to respond to the attack in Syria.
House Speaker Paul Ryan is praising Trump’s ‘decisive action in coordination with our allies,’ adding, ‘We are united in our resolve.’
Senate Armed Service Committee Chairman John McCain applauded the airstrikes but said ‘they alone will not achieve U.S. objectives in the Middle East.’
Top Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer called the airstrikes ‘appropriate,’ but said ‘the administration has to be careful about not getting us into a greater and more involved war in Syria.’
In a statement released following the airstrikes, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), the Ranking Member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, said there ‘is absolutely no question’ the gas attack merits a strong response.
But he added: ‘I remain concerned, as I have since the start of the Syrian civil war, about the danger of getting drawn into a horrific and complex civil war that has been raging in Syria, and will want to know whether these strikes are consistent with a broader military and diplomatic plan for the country and region.
‘While these joint American, British and French strikes are morally justified against the Assad regime’s gassing of its own people, they take place with no congressional authorization.’
U.S. Senator Tim Kaine, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations and Armed Services Committees, added: ‘President Trump’s decision to launch airstrikes against the Syrian government without Congress’s approval is illegal and – absent a broader strategy – it’s reckless.
‘Last week, President Trump was adamant that the U.S. was leaving Syria imminently. This week, he is opening a new military front. Assad must face consequences for his war crimes, but Presidents cannot initiate military action when there isn’t an imminent threat to American lives.’
House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-CA) said: ‘The administration is justified to take limited action in coordination with our allies to hold Assad accountable for the use of chemical weapons.
‘Next week, this committee will convene a hearing regarding U.S. policy for the region, and the administration needs to begin fully explaining its strategy for the months ahead.
‘Military force cannot be the only means of responding to these atrocities. The U.S. must leverage strong diplomacy and serious financial pressure. That’s why, last year, the House led in passing tough new sanctions against Assad and his enablers. The Senate needs to move this legislation to the president’s desk quickly.’
‘I have done so because I judge this action to be in Britain’s national interest’: Theresa May’s statement in full
Theresa May’s statement in full
‘This evening I have authorised British armed forces to conduct co-ordinated and targeted strikes to degrade the Syrian Regime’s chemical weapons capability and deter their use.
‘We are acting together with our American and French allies.
‘In Douma, last Saturday a chemical weapons attack killed up to 75 people, including young children, in circumstances of pure horror.
‘The fact of this attack should surprise no-one.
‘The Syrian Regime has a history of using chemical weapons against its own people in the most cruel and abhorrent way.
‘And a significant body of information including intelligence indicates the Syrian Regime is responsible for this latest attack.
‘This persistent pattern of behaviour must be stopped – not just to protect innocent people in Syria from the horrific deaths and casualties caused by chemical weapons but also because we cannot allow the erosion of the international norm that prevents the use of these weapons.
‘We have sought to use every possible diplomatic channel to achieve this.
‘But our efforts have been repeatedly thwarted. Even this week the Russians vetoed a Resolution at the UN Security Council which would have established an independent investigation into the Douma attack.
‘So there is no practicable alternative to the use of force to degrade and deter the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian Regime.
‘This is not about intervening in a civil war. It is not about regime change.
‘It is about a limited and targeted strike that does not further escalate tensions in the region and that does everything possible to prevent civilian casualties.
‘And while this action is specifically about deterring the Syrian Regime, it will also send a clear signal to anyone else who believes they can use chemical weapons with impunity.
‘At this time, my thoughts are with our brave British servicemen and women – and our French and American partners – who are carrying out their duty with the greatest professionalism.
‘The speed with which we are acting is essential in co-operating with our partners to alleviate further humanitarian suffering and to maintain the vital security of our operations.
‘This is the first time as Prime Minister that I have had to take the decision to commit our armed forces in combat – and it is not a decision I have taken lightly.
‘I have done so because I judge this action to be in Britain’s national interest.
‘We cannot allow the use of chemical weapons to become normalised – within Syria, on the streets of the UK, or anywhere else in our world.
‘We would have preferred an alternative path. But on this occasion there is none.
‘History teaches us that the international community must defend the global rules and standards that keep us all safe.
‘That is what our country has always done. And what we will continue to do. ‘