UPDATE: On Friday morning, Russian officials announced the suspension of a deal with the US to prevent air collisions over Syria. The deal, in place since 2015, has ensured flight safety for pilots in the region and its suspension, according to activists in the region, is a “worrying turn.”
ORIGINAL STORY: The United States has launched a cruise missile attack on a Syrian airfield in response to the county’s recent chemical weapons attack that killed at least 100 people.
According to NBC News, two U.S. warships fired missiles intended for a single target — Shayrat Airfield in Homs province in western Syria— the airfield from which the United States believes the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad fired the banned weapons.
“Assad choked out the lives of helpless men, women and children,” Trump said. “It is in this vital national security interest of the United States to prevent and deter the spread and use of deadly chemical weapons,” said Trump, who called on other countries to end the bloodshed in Syria.
“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.”
The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, tressed that Syria is to blame for the chemical weapons attacks.
“When the United Nations consistently fails in its duty to act collectively, there are times in the life of states that we are compelled to take our own action,” she said.
The actions were a direct departure from the president’s previous stance on intervening in Syria.
Trump did not seek out Congressional approval before the launch of the attack on Thursday.
But critics have pointed out Trump’s reluctance to support Syrian refugees from entering the U.S. and his cuts to humanitarian aid as evidence of him using the devastating chemical attack as an impetus to use military force in Syria for his own agenda. Moreover, in 2013, when a nerve gas attack left more than 1,400 dead in Damascus, 183 Republicans voted against President Obama‘s appeal to Congress to get approval to strike.
But just four years later, under a new administration, the rules of engagement for the GOP have apparently changed. The same can be said for the president, whose reaction was perhaps the swiftest in recent foreign policy history.
“I have that flexibility, and it’s very, very possible, and I will tell you, it’s already happened, that my attitude toward Syria and Assad has changed very much,” Trump added.
Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin, an ally of Assad’s, condemned the strikes, saying they were a violation of international law.
No plans to drop additional missiles have been announced as of Friday morning.