U.S. air strikes on Assad targets in Syria: What we know so far - Macleans.ca

U.S. air strikes on Assad targets in Syria: What we know so far

Missiles fired from U.S. warships struck Assad regime-controlled targets in Syria Thursday night. Here’s what we know.

The guided-missile destroyer USS Porter (DDG 78) transits the Mediterranean Sea on March 9, 2017. (Ford Williams/Courtesy U.S. Navy/Reuters)

The guided-missile destroyer USS Porter (DDG 78) transits the Mediterranean Sea on March 9, 2017. (Ford Williams/Courtesy U.S. Navy/Reuters)

The United States launched cruise missiles at targets held by the Assad regime in Syria on Thursday night. Here’s what we know about events so far.

1. Between 50 and 60 Tomahawk missiles hit the al-Shaylat air base near Homs, one of Syria’s largest cities before the conflict began. U.S. officials say that was the origin point for this week’s chemical weapons attacks by the Assad regime, based on radar tracking.

2. Speaking Thursday night from his Mar-a-Lago resort where he is hosting Chinese Premier Xi Jingpeng this weekend, the president linked the U.S. military action to the chemical attack. He said it was in the “vital national security interest of the United States to prevent and deter the spread and use of deadly chemical weapons.”

READ MORE: Syria is gassing children to death. What should Canada do?

3. The Russian military was reportedly informed in advance of the attacks. The Russian government has backed the Assad regime, and has troops on the ground in Syria. Earlier today it was reported that the U.S. military believed strikes might result in Russian casualties, an outcome the Obama administration had sought to avoid.

In comments to reporters, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Russia had failed to live up to its commitment to get rid of Syria’s chemical weapons. “Either Russia has been complicit, or Russia has been incompetent” in its ability to deliver on that commitment, Tillerson said.

4. Senator Rand Paul, a member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, tweeted after news of the strikes that the president “needs Congressional authorization for military action as required by the Constitution.” Asked earlier in the day if he had told members of Congress that he planned to take military action, Trump said “I don’t want to mention that. But the answer is no, I haven’t.” Paul’s committee colleague, Democrat Senator Ben Cardin had also emphasized the need for Congressional authorization earlier in the day.

5. A key question now is whether the missile strikes are the beginning of a more significant U.S. military involvement in the Syrian conflict. The president called on “all civilized nations to join us in seeking to end the slaughter and bloodshed in Syria.” Yet Tillerson reportedly later said the strikes should not be interpreted as marking a change in the administration’s position on the conflict.

More updates to come.


U.S. air strikes on Assad targets in Syria: What we know so far

  1. United States sends missile strikes at Assad targets in Syria

    Americans always support their president in time of war.

    Which is handy for presidents as the US has been at war for 93% of their history.

    So the rule is…..when you’re unpopular, go to war. 50 missiles to take out one airfield. Americans are lousy shots.

    Babies have been killed in Syria all along…..it doesn’t much matter how. They’re dead either way

    But this…..this make Trump look like a hero

    More theatre.

    • EmilyOne. 100% true. This is just one other diversion that Trump thinks will turn his ship around. His speech yesterday was sickening and definitely theatre. Pictures of babies are horrifying yes but what about toddlers washing up on a beach in Turkey or the bloodied face of a child in the back of an ambulance? He hung up on the Australian Prime Minister when asked to take in refugees. The horror in Syria has been happening for years and the fact that Trump ordered these strikes perhaps from the clubhouse from Mar-A-Lago as opposed to discussing with his allies or even at best Congress, says a lot. We will not get any well thought out, measured approaches to anything with this administration and that is what’s the most troubling.

      • Absolutely agree. It’s like watching a toddler run around with a loaded gun.

        Trump has no business being there.

  2. Considering the state of U.S. intelligence it is not surprising that they did not (a) ask the U.N., (b) ask the Russians, (c) ask the Congress. And I am sure that he did not inform the Russians until the moment of pressing the ‘Fire’ button. Not to mention that Russia would certainly have played its veto card at the U.N.

    I would love to know the thoughts of President Xi (His private thoughts, not his public statement). Not to mention Kim-jong Un. ;-)

    • Russia was notified an hour ahead.