Overnight, 59 Tomahawk missiles were launched at the Al Shayrat airfield in Syria from U.S. ships in the Mediterranean Sea, The New York Times reports. The missiles were targeted at destroying Syrian fighter jets and other military equipment, according to the Times. This is the first direct action the United States has taken against the Syrian government in the six-year history of its civil war conflict, The Washington Post reports.
On Thursday evening, President Trump announced at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida the decision to strike Syria, CNN reports. “Tonight, I ordered a targeted military strike on the air base in Syria from where the chemical attack was launched,” he said. The strikes, he suggested, would “prevent and deter the spread and use of deadly chemical weapons” after the “very barbaric” chemical attack, reports the Times.
It didn’t take long for other countries to condemn the move. Russia and Iran, who back the Syrian government under President Bashad al-Assad, quickly condemned Trump’s decision, the Post reports. President Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, “This step by Washington is causing significant damage to Russian-American relations, which are already in a deplorable state,” according to the Post. Since the announcement, Russia has suspended a military cooperation agreement with the United States, the Times reports.
President Trump’s decision is a noticeable pivot from his earlier stance on the conflict in Syria. In 2013, he criticized the Obama administration on Twitter for considering bombing Syria.
What will we get for bombing Syria besides more debt and a possible long term conflict? Obama needs Congressional approval.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 29, 2013
Since the missile strike was announced Thursday night, celebrities have chimed in on social media about the attacks. Former Girl Meets World star and activist Rowan Blanchard said the missile attacks made her “violently sick to my stomach” on her Instagram page. Comedian Trevor Noah called the move “sad”in a tweet condemning politicians’ use of government funds for the attack, rather than allocating those resources to education or health care.
Unsurprisingly, many Republicans swiftly voiced their support of the decision to strike—even some of Trump's critics. Although both senators have been strong critics of the president in the past, John McCain and Lindsey Graham applauded his move, Vox reports. “Unlike the previous administration, President Trump confronted a pivotal moment in Syria and took action. For that, he deserves the support of the American people,” McCain and Graham said in a joint statement. Other senators such as Marco Rubio, Carlos Curbelo and Speaker Paul Ryan also voiced their praise. But some Republicans, such as Rand Paul and Justin Amash, weren't fans of the decision, Vox reports.
However, Democratic reactions were more mixed. Democrats like Eliot Engel and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer praised the move to attack. But many Democrats, such as Senator Elizabeth Warren, Seth Moulton and Ted Lieu, were quick to voice their criticism, Vox reports.
The United Nations Security Council will meet Friday to discuss the missile strike and its repercussions, reports USA Today. So far, at least 13 casualties have been reported, according to the Post.