In retaliation to a deadly chemical attack earlier this week, President Donald Trump ordered a missile strike on a Syrian air base Thursday evening.
U.S. forces launched 59 Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles from the USS Porter and the USS Ross, both in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea, at 4:40 a.m. Friday in Syria, according to a Department of Defense news release.
The attack targeted aircraft, aircraft shelters, ammunition supply bunkers, air defense systems and radars at the Shayrat Airfield, which, according to the DOD, was used to store chemical weapons and the aircraft used to carry out the April 4 gas attack in northern Syria.
“Using a deadly nerve agent, Assad choked out the lives of helpless men, women and children,” said Trump in a statement to the nation Thursday night. “It was a slow and brutal death for so many. Even beautiful babies were cruelly murdered in this very barbaric attack. No child of God should ever suffer such horror.”
At least 72 people were killed Tuesday in the chemical attack. The Turkish government on Thursday confirmed that Sarin gas, an internationally-banned nerve agent, was used in the attack. Russia and Syria deny Syrian involvement in the attack, but world leaders and experts agree it was carried out by Bashar al-Assad’s government.
“It is in the vital national security interest of the United States to prevent and deter the spread and use of deadly chemical weapons,” Trump said.
Pentagon spokesman Navy Capt. Jeff Davis called the strike “a proportional response to Assad’s heinous act.”
Davis said Russian forces were notified of the attack ahead of time and the U.S. took precautions to minimize risk against both Russian and Syrian forces on the ground.
“We are assessing the results of the strike,” he said. “Initial indications are that this strike has severely damaged or destroyed Syrian aircraft and support infrastructure and equipment at Shayrat Airfield, reducing the Syrian government’s ability to deliver chemical weapons.”
“The use of chemical weapons against innocent people will not be tolerated,” he said.