The day after the United States launched a missile attack against a Syrian air base, U.S. Ambasador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said the Trump Administration is prepared to take further action, if necessary.
“The United States took a very measured step last night,” Haley said. “We are prepared to do more. But we hope that will not be necessary. It is time for all civilized nations to stop the horrors that are taking place in Syria and demand a political solution.”
She also pointed the finger at Russia for failing to keep Syrian leader Bashar al-Aassad in check.
“Every time Assad has crossed the line of human decency, Russia has stood beside him,” Haley said.
The U.S. blasted a Syrian air base with 59 cruise missiles Thursday night in retaliation for this week’s horrific chemical weapons attack that killed at least 87 civilians, including 31 children.
It was the first direct American assault on the Syrian government and Trump’s most dramatic military order since becoming president.
“Assad choked out the lives of helpless men, women, and children,” Trump said in a statement following the attack. “No child of God should ever suffer such horror.”
The president wants the surprise attack to send a strong message to the Syrian government that the United States will not allow it to use banned chemical weapons.
“There can be no dispute that Syria used banned chemical weapons,” Trump said. “Numerous previous attempts at changing Assad’s behavior have all found and failed very dramatically. As a result, the refugee crisis continues to deepen and the region continues to destabilize, threatening the United States and its allies.”
President Trump then called on the world to pray for Syria and to ask God for wisdom in dealing with a nation broken by civil war.
“Tonight I call on all civilized nations to join us in seeking to end the slaughter and bloodshed in Syrian and also to end terrorism of all kinds and all types. We asked for God’s wisdom as we face the challenges of our very troubled world. We pray for the lives of the wounded and for the souls of those who passed.”
The strikes hit the government-controlled Shayrat air base in central Syria, where U.S. officials say the Syrian military planes that dropped the chemicals had taken off. The missiles targeted the base’s airstrips, hangars, control tower, and ammunition areas, officials said.
Syrian state TV reported a U.S. missile attack on a number of military targets and called the attack an “aggression.” Many wonder if war could be looming in the future.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says the airstrikes will send a powerful message beyond Syria.
“President Trump sent a strong and clear message today that the use and spread of chemical weapons will not be tolerated,” Netanyahu said. “Israel fully supports President Trump’s decision and hopes that this message of resolve in the face of the Assad regime’s horrific actions will resonate not only in Damascus, but in Tehran, Pyongyang and elsewhere.”
The attack sparked mixed responses on Capitol Hill.
Senator Rand Paul criticized Trump for acting without getting congressional approval.
“While we all condemn the atrocities in Syria, the United States was not attacked. The President needs congressional authorization for military action as required by the Constitution, and I call on him to come to Congress for a proper debate,” he said.
Meanwhile, Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham applauded the strikes.
“We salute the skill and professionalism of the U.S. 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,” the senators said.
Some Democrats even applauded the president’s move, while others said he needs to consult with Congress on future military actions.
Pentagon officials say Russia was informed before the attack, to avoid any military conflict with them and prevent Russian casualties on the ground in Syria.
But Russia and Iran strongly condemned the attack with threatening language.
The Kremlin said President Vladimir Putin believes the U.S. strike is an “aggression against a sovereign state in violation of international law.”
The head of an Iranian parliamentary committee on national security and foreign policy was quoted as saying, “Russia and Iran won’t be quiet against such acts which violate interests of the region.”
He said serious consequences would follow the U.S. action.