Homs, Syria- In a first strike against the Assad Regime following the chemical attack in North Syria, the United States launched at least 59 Tomahawk missiles at the al-Shayrat airfield from the USS Porter and USS Ross in the Mediterranean. This airfield is believed to be the location where the planes carrying the chemical weapons originated from and it was also built by Russia in 2015. According to the Washington Post, the Trump authorized this strike against the Assad and the Syrian government in retaliation for the chemical attacks in Idlib.

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.” –Washington Post

The chemical attack, determined to most likely be sarin gas, killed and injured hundreds. Prior to the chemical attack this week, the Trump administration was supportive of Assad retaining power in Syria. Trump’s stance quickly changed following the chemical attack and the strike tonight confirms his decision to no longer support Assad.

“There can be no dispute that Syria used banned chemical weapons … and ignored the urging of the UN Security Council,” he said during short remarks to reporters at Mar-a-Lago. “The refugee crisis continues to deepen and the region continues to destabilize.”- CNN 

The Department of Defense released the following statement:

At the direction of the president, U.S. forces conducted a cruise missile strike against a Syrian Air Force airfield today at about 8:40 p.m. EDT (4:40 a.m., April 7, in Syria).  The strike targeted Shayrat Airfield in Homs governorate, and was in response to the Syrian government’s chemical weapons attack April 4 in Khan Sheikhoun, which killed or injured hundreds of innocent Syrian people, including women and children.

The strike was conducted using Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles (TLAMs) launched from the destroyers USS Porter and USS Ross in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea.  A total of 59 TLAMs targeted aircraft, hardened aircraft shelters, petroleum and logistical storage, ammunition supply bunkers, air defense systems, and radars.   As always, the U.S. took extraordinary measures to avoid civilian casualties and to comply with the Law of Armed Conflict.  Every precaution was taken to execute this strike with minimal risk to personnel at the airfield.

The strike was a proportional response to Assad’s heinous act. Shayrat Airfield was used to store chemical weapons and Syrian air forces.  The U.S. intelligence community assesses that aircraft from Shayrat conducted the chemical weapons attack on April 4.  The strike was intended to deter the regime from using chemical weapons again.