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 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,’ Trump said in a televised address from the White House.
‘These are not the actions of a man. They are crimes of a monster instead,’ Trump said referring to Assad and his role in the chemical weapons attacks.’
Syrian TV reports that Syrian air defenses have responded to the US-British-French attack.
‘The purpose of our actions tonight is to establish a strong deterrent against the production, spread and use of chemical weapons,’ Trump said.
Trump said a combined operation with France and Britain was under way and that they were prepared to sustain the response until Syria stopped its use of chemical weapons.
But he said America does not seek ‘an indefinite presence’ in Syria and will look to pull out its troops once the Islamic State is totally defeated.
Trump said the three nations – the US, Britain and France – have ‘marshaled their righteous power.’
The Syrian capital was rocked by loud explosions that lit up the sky with heavy smoke as Trump announced the retaliation.
Associated Press reporters in Damascus saw smoke rising from east Damascus early Saturday morning local time. Syrian state TV says the attack has begun on the capital, though it wasn’t immediately clear what was targeted.