On Friday evening, President Donald Trump ordered precision strikes on chemical weapons sites in Syria. This comes in the wake of chemical gas attacks reportedly orchestrated by Syrian president Bashar Al-Assad. President Trump said in a statement Friday night that America’s military would be working in conjunction with the militaries of Britain and France. He went on to call out Russia, saying that they failed to keep their 2013 promise to take away chemical weapons from Assad.
This comes shortly after the one year anniversary of the 2017 Shayrat missile strike, when 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles were launched by the US Navy at the Shayrat Airbase, a base controlled by the Syrian government. This April 7th 2017 attack destroyed around 20% of the Syrian government’s operational aircraft and ripped the base of its ability to refuel or rearm aircraft.
It is unclear what all damage will be caused by this new attack, but early reports cite explosions being heard in Syria’s capital city of Damascus and an airport being destroyed.
Trump’s stance on United States interference in Syria has been a shaky one and one that has changed significantly since he took the office of the president. Tweets from 2013 show him suggesting we should “stay the hell out of Syria,” going on to say: “WHAT WILL WE GET FOR OUR LIVES AND $ BILLIONS?ZERO.”
This airstrike comes two days after a threatening tweet from the President directed towards Russia in regards to Syria, reading: “Russia vows to shoot down any and all missiles fired at Syria. Get ready Russia, because they will be coming nice and new and “smart”!…”.
It is unclear if and how Russia will react to this strike, though many fear a harsh retaliation from the country. The war in Syria has become a proxy war of sorts between the United States and Russia as tensions grow between the two countries and between leaders President Donald Trump and President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin.
Nearly an hour after President Trump’s statement, Secretary of Defense James Mattis made one, saying that the strikes were conducted in an effort to stop the future use of chemical weapons, and that there has been a great effort to avoid civilian casualties as a result of them. The targets include a science center and storage facilities.