"The United States launched nearly five dozen cruise missiles at a Syrian airfield early Friday in response to a chemical weapons attack that killed dozens of civilians, the first direct assault on the Damascus government since the beginning of that country's bloody civil war in 2011.
"It is in the vital national security interest of the United States to prevent and deter the spread and use of deadly chemical weapons," President Donald Trump said in a statement. "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."
Fifty-nine Tomahawk missiles targeted an airbase at Shayrat, located outside Homs. The missiles targeted the base's airstrips, hangars, control tower and ammunition areas, officials said.
Pentagon spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis said initial indications were that the strike had "severely damaged or destroyed Syrian aircraft and support infrastructure and equipment ... reducing the Syrian Government's ability to deliver chemical weapons." There was no immediate word about any casualties.
Trump said the base was used as the staging point for Tuesday's chemical weapons attack on rebel-held territory, which killed as many as 72 civilians, including women and children.
"Assad choked out the lives of helpless men, women and children," Trump said from Mar-a-Lago, Fla. "Even beautiful babies were cruelly murdered in this very barbaric attack. No child of God should ever suffer such horror."
National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster said the strike should cause a "big shift in Assad's calculus."
Why about time? First, since the WMD's were moved from Iraq to Syria in 2002, there has been a wonder what Syria did with them since Iraq's fall. That question has been answered over and over again by Assad. The attack targeted the airfield that reportedly were used to launch the aircraft.
According to Fox News, Trump didn't call Putin to announce this move, (so much for the Trump/Putin bro-mance the media's been slobbering about), so it will be interesting to see what Putin's response will be, more important Assad's. Does he throw up a "screw you" followup attack, or lay low.
Will this bolster anti Assad forces? We'll have to see, but remember how Reagan did precisely the same thing with Libya in the 80s, continued bombing forced Qaddafi to conform, at least for a while.
By the way, what to make of Hillary Clinton's response to the gas attacks today prior to the missile launch.
“I really believe that we should’ve and still should take out his airfields and prevent him from being able to use them to bomb innocent people and drop sarin gas on them.” - Hillary Clinton