President Trump on Friday announced that he has approved military strikes in Syria against the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
The decision follows a suspected chemical gas attack from the Assad regime on a rebel-held town near the Syrian capital last weekend.
The United States launched the response, along with assurance from France and the United Kingdom, Trump stated.
French President Emmanuel Macron said the operation is currently targeting the “clandestine chemical arsenal” in Syria.
“This evening I have authorized British armed forces to conduct coordinated and targeted strikes to degrade the Syrian Regime’s chemical weapons capability and deter their use,” British Prime Minister Theresa May said in a statement.
Trump’s announcement immediately preceded reports of loud explosions lighting up the sky in Damascus. Syrian TV reported that Syrian air defenses have responded to the U.S.-British-French attack.
Trump said the U.S. is prepared to “sustain” pressure on Assad until he ends what the president called a criminal pattern of killing his own people with internationally banned chemical weapons. It wasn’t immediately clear whether Trump meant the allied military operation would extend beyond the initial nighttime round of missile strikes.
At least 40 people died in the chemical attack in Douma last Saturday, about 10 miles east of Damascus, and over 500 people, mostly women and children, were injured and brought to medical centers. The attack occurred amid a resumed offensive by Syrian government forces after the collapse of a truce. Syrian activists, rescuers and medics said families suffocated in their homes.
Assad’s actions, Trump said, “are not the actions of a man,” but “are the crimes of a monster instead.”