Last night, the United States responded to Syria’s use of chemical weapons with force. President Donald Trump approved missile strikes against key strategic locations in a stern warning that the use of such weapons will not be tolerated.
In the wake of last Saturday’s attack, the international community has been debating whether the use of airstrikes would be an appropriate response.
The Strike Was A Response To Assad’s Use Of Chemical Weapons
Last Saturday, it is believed that President Bashar al-Assad launched a brutal chemical gas attack against civilians in the town of Douma, which is near Damascus, the Syrian capital. The town was held by rebels fighting against the Assad regime.
The chemical weapons attack killed at least 40 people and injured over 500. The casualties were reported to be primarily women and children. The attack came after a truce between the rebels and Assad’s forces collapsed.
According to Fox News, the president’s announcement about the strike came just before reports of “loud explosions lighting up the sky in Damascus.” The United States launches were in coordination with both France and the United Kingdom. The U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May stated that she had “authorized British armed forces to conduct coordinated and targeted strikes to degrade the Syrian regime’s chemical weapons capability and deter their use.”
President Trump’s Announcement
Trump had much to say about the reasons for the U.S. missile strike. He stated that the chemical weapons attack “was a significant escalation in a pattern of chemical weapons use by that very terrible regime.” He also said that Assad’s assault “left mothers and fathers, infants and children thrashing in pain and gasping for air.” The president argued that “These are not the actions of a man, they are crimes of a monster instead.”
In his announcement, President Trump stated that the United States missile attack was designed to “establish a strong deterrent against the production, spread, and use of chemical weapons,” warning President Assad that “We are prepared to sustain this response until the Syrian regime stops its use of prohibited chemical agents.”
The president also had strong words for Iran and Russia, countries that have been long-term supporters of Assad’s government. He asked a simple question: “What kind of a nation wants to be associated with the mass murder of innocent men, women, and children?”
What Does This Mean?
It’s too early to discern what kind of impact the United States airstrikes have had on Assad’s government. We do not yet know the full scope of the damage inflicted by American missiles. However, like last year’s missile strike, it will send a strong message to the rest of the world.
The involvement of the U.K. and France will likely show Syria, Russia, and Iran that the United States is not the only nation who is willing to use force to oppose the use of chemical weapons. Indeed, Israel launched an airstrike against the Syrian government earlier this week.
There is no way to know whether or not Russia or Iran will take the United States’ message seriously. They have been accused of “propping up” Assad since before the Syrian civil war started. It is clear that the days of the United States ignoring self-imposed red lines are over. The recent missile strike demonstrates that America is willing to back up words with force.