Tillerson: Russia 'complicit or incompetent' over Syria chemical weapons deal
Trump: full comments
The US military has launched a cruise missile volley at Syrian airfields, making the US a direct combatant for the first time against Bashar al-Assad.
Donald Trump, who for years signalled comfort with leaving Assad in power, abruptly switched course after seeing images of children gassed to death in Idlib province after Assad unleashed sarin gas in his latest chemical weapons attack.
The strike comprised dozens of Tomahawk cruise missiles launched from the guided-missile destroyers USS Ross and Porter in the eastern Mediterranean. An airfield near Homs was targeted, signalling a limited initial engagement. The US did not target Syria's formidable air defences, as it does before a concerted airpower campaign.
Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham, both armed services committee hawks who have been sharply critical of Trump even as they have long sought an attack on Assad, praised Trump on Thursday evening.
In a joint statement, they said:
We salute the skill and professionalism of the US armed forces who carried out tonight's strikes in Syria. Acting on the orders of their commander-in-chief, they have sent an important message: the United States will no longer stand idly by as Assad, aided and abetted by Putin's Russia, slaughters innocent Syrians with chemical weapons and barrel bombs.
Tomahawks are sophisticated missiles with the ability to shift course in the air, making them analogous to drones on a one-way mission. Syria's formidable, Russian-supplied air defences, largely along the Mediterranean coast, have long prompted warnings from US military officials against attacking Assad.
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