WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump announced on Friday he ordered strikes on the Syrian regime in response to a chemical weapons attack last weekend.
“I ordered the United States armed forces to launch precision strikes on targets associated with the chemical weapon capabilities of Syrian dictator of Bashar al-Assad,” Trump said from the White House Diplomatic Room.
US aircraft and ships were used in the attack, according to multiple US defense officials.
Trump said the strikes were in coordination with France and the United Kingdom, adding that the purpose of the campaign is to “establish a strong deterrent against the production, spread and use of chemical weapons.”
“The combined American, British and French response to these atrocities will integrate all instruments of our national power: military, economic and diplomatic,” Trump said.
UK Prime Minister Theresa May said in a statement that she “authorized British armed forces to conduct co-ordinated and targeted strikes to degrade the Syrian Regime’s chemical weapons capability and deter their use.”
Trump indicated the strikes would continue until the Syrian regime’s use of chemical weapons ends.
“We are prepared to sustain this response until the Syrian regime stops its use of prohibited chemical agents,” Trump said.
The President also insisted that the US would not remain engaged in Syria forever under any circumstances. He has previously told his national security team he wants US troops to exit Syria within six months.
“America does not seek an indefinite presence in Syria,” Trump said from the White House. “As other nations step up their contributions we look forward to the day we can bring our warriors home.”
Trump told the nation in his address the US “cannot purge the world of evil or act everywhere there is tyranny.”
And he described the Middle East as a “troubled place.”
“We will try to make it better but it is a troubled place,” Trump said. “The US will be a partner and a friend. But the fate of the region lies in the hands of its own people.”
He criticized Russia’s support of the Syrian regime saying “Russia must decide if it will continue down this dark path.”
Trump also called out Russia’s promise in 2013 that they would guarantee the elimination of Syria’s chemical weapons.