Horror! Many Dead as America Launches Attack on Syria With 59 Tomahawk Missiles

In this image released by the US Navy, the guided-missile destroyer USS Porter conducts strike operations while in the Mediterranean Sea

The U.S. military launched 59 cruise missiles at a Syrian military airfield late on Thursday, in the first direct American assault on the government of President Bashar al-Assad since that country’s civil war began six years ago. The assault has reportedly left many people dead.


According to The Washington Post, the operation, which the Trump administration authorized in retaliation for a chemical attack killing scores of civilians this week, dramatically expands U.S. military involvement in Syria and exposes the United States to heightened risk of direct confrontation with Russia and Iran, both backing Assad in his attempt to crush his opposition.


President Trump said the strike was in the “vital national security interest” of the United States and called on “all civilized nations to join us in seeking to end the slaughter and bloodshed in Syria. And also to end terrorism of all kinds and all types.”

“We ask for God’s wisdom as we face the challenge of our very troubled world,” he continued. “We pray for the lives of the wounded and for the souls of those who have passed and we hope that as long as America stands for justice then peace and harmony will in the end prevail.”

The missiles were launched from two Navy destroyers — the USS Ross and USS Porter — in the eastern Mediterranean. They struck an airbase called Shayrat in Homs province, which is the site from which the planes that conducted the chemical attack in Idlib are believed to have originated.

The targets included air defenses, aircraft, hangars and fuel. The military said initial indications were that the strike had “severely damaged or destroyed Syrian aircraft and support infrastructure.”

Syrian state TV said a U.S. missile attack hit a number of military targets inside the country, calling the attack an “aggression,” according to the Associated Press.

U.S. officials said the Russians, who maintain significant forces in Syria, were given advance warning of the strike. There is a Russian military area at the base that was hit, but the U.S. took precautions not to strike that area, according to Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman.

In comparison, the start of the Iraq war in 2003 saw the use of roughly 500 cruise missiles and 47 were fired at the opening of the anti-Islamic State campaign in Syria in 2014. The attack may put hundreds of American troops now stationed in Syria in greater danger. They are advising local forces in advance of a major assault on the Syrian city of Raqqa, the Islamic State’s de facto capital.

The decision to strike follows 48 hours of intense deliberations by U.S. officials, and represents a significant break with the previous administration’s reluctance to wade militarily into the Syrian civil war and shift any focus from the campaign against the Islamic State.

Senior White House officials met on the issue of Syria Wednesday evening in a session that lasted into early Thursday, and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, the national security adviser, have communicated repeatedly since Tuesday’s chemical attack, the officials said.

The U.S. Central Command has had plans for striking the Syrian government for years and currently has significant assets in the region, enabling a quick response once a decision was made.

While the Obama White House began operations against the Islamic State in 2014, it backed away from a planned assault on Syrian government sites a year earlier after a similar chemical attack on Syrian civilians.

Tuesday’s apparent nerve gas attack in northern Idlib, with its widely circulated images of lifeless children, appears to have galvanized Trump and some of his top advisers to harden their position against the Syrian leader.

The assault adds new complexity to Syria’s prolonged conflict, which includes fighters battling the Syrian government and others focused on combatting the Islamic State, which despite over two years of American and allied attacks remains a potent force.

Within the administration, some officials urged immediate action against Assad, warning against what one described as “paralysis through analysis.” But others were concerned about second- and third-order effects, including the response of Russia, which also has installed sophisticated air-defense systems in Syria, according to the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.

The Trump administration’s position on the strongman appears to have quickly shifted in the wake of the chemical attack, as senior officials voiced new criticism of the Syrian leader.

On Thursday night, McMaster predicted the strikes would result in a “big shift on Assad’s calculus. It’s the first time United States has taken direct military action.”

McMaster described a deliberative process inside the White House and National Security Council, where three options were examined at the request of the president.

Trump made the final decision and the strike “clearly indicate the president is willing to take decisive action when called for.” He emphasized, however, that the move did not otherwise alter the U.S. military’s posture in Syria.
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