The US, France, and Britain together launched military strikes in Syria to punish President Bashar Assad for a suspected chemical attack against civilians and to deter him from doing it again, President Trump announced Friday. The AP reports that explosions lit up the skies over Damascus, the Syrian capital, as Trump announced the airstrikes from the White House. Syrian television reported that Syrian air defenses have responded to the attack. Trump says the US is prepared to "sustain" pressure on Assad until he ends what the president calls a criminal pattern of killing his own people with internationally banned chemical weapons. It was not immediately clear whether Trump meant the allied military operation would extend beyond an initial nighttime round of missile strikes.
Trump did not provide details on the joint US-British-French attack, but it was expected to include barrages of cruise missiles launched from outside Syrian airspace. He described the main aim as establishing "a strong deterrent" against chemical weapons use. The Syrian government has repeatedly denied any use of banned weapons. French President Emmanuel Macron confirmed the attack, saying it was launched against a "clandestine chemical arsenal" run by Syria's government, the AP reports. Macron says France's "red line has been crossed" after a suspected chemical attack last week in the Syrian town of Douma. The US decision to strike marked Trump's second order to attack Syria; he authorized a barrage of Tomahawk cruise missiles to hit a single Syrian airfield in April 2017 in retaliation for Assad's use of sarin gas against civilians.
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