President Donald Trump addressed the nation Friday night saying he has authorized a retaliatory action against Syrian government targets in response to a suspected chemical attack in a Damascus suburb that left dozens of civilians dead.
The operation was undertaken in concert with the United Kingdom, and French allies. Trump thanked them for their help on this mission.
Trump also used his speech to directly address Syria's two allies - Russia and Iran - asking them why they would support a brutal dictator who used chemical weapons against his own people.
"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?" Trump said. " Hopefully someday we will get along with Russia, and maybe even Iran. But maybe not."
The AP reports that loud explosions were heard in the skies over the Syrian capital, the same time as President Trump was announcing the strikes.
Trump said that the U.S. did not seek "an indefinite presence" in Syria, and will consider pulling out troops once the Islamic State had been defeated.
British Prime Minister Theresa May issued a statement about the strikes, saying they were about deterring the Syrian regime from using chemical weapons.
"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," May said.
The UK Defense Ministry issued a statement saying fighter jets have launched missiles at a military facility near Homs, "where the regime is assessed to keep chemical weapon precursors stockpiled in breach of Syria’s obligations under the Chemical Weapons Convention."
At a press conference on Friday, the White House said the government had a "very high confidence" that the Syrian government perpetrated the deadly chemical weapons attack in a suburb of Damascus on April 7th.
"We have a very high confidence that Syria was responsible and, once again, Russia’s failure to stop them and their continued disaction on this front has been part of the problem," White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said.
Trump called Assad an 'animal' amid news of the chemical attack last weekend, warning that there would "a big price to pay" for the " mindless CHEMICAL attack."
Syria and its allies - Russia and Iran - deny that Assad's government used chemical weapons. The Russian Defense Ministry blamed the United Kingdom on Friday for staging the attack, something the U.K. dismissed as a "blatant lie."
This is a developing story, more details will be added as they become available.
Photo: Getty Images