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US attacks Syrian military with missiles

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Posted at 9:22 PM, Apr 06, 2017
and last updated 2017-04-06 23:39:56-04

President Donald Trump ordered the launch of dozens of Tomahawk missiles directed toward a Syrian air force base late Thursday, days after the Syrian government allegedly unleashed chemical weapons on its citizens.

The chemical weapons attack killed at least 80, according to various international groups, some of whom were children.

US officials told the Associated Press that the United States directed 60 missiles toward a strategic air force target in Syria. The missiles were reportedly fired from ships in the eastern Mediterranean.

The Tomahawk missile attack was directed at the Shayrat Airbase, which is 60 miles south of the Syrian capital of Damascus.

Photos: Syria devastated by civil war, chemical attack 

The attack reportedly took place between 8 and 9 p.m. Eastern, which would have been in the middle of the night in Syria. 

The United States has had a tricky relationship with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, as Syria has been in opposition with the Islamic State. The battle between Assad and the Islamic State has put the nation in a de facto civil war, which the United Nation claims has killed more than 400,000 citizens. 

 

The US began launching air strikes in Syria in September 2014 under President Barack Obama as part of its coalition campaign against ISIS, but has only targeted the terrorist group, and not Syrian government forces.

"Tonight, I ordered a targeted military strike on the air field in Syria from where the chemical attack was launched," Trump said during short remarks to reporters at Mar-a-Lago. "It is in this vital national security of the United States to prevent and deter the spread and use of deadly chemical weapons."

He added: "There can be no dispute that Syria used banned chemical weapons, violated its obligations under the Chemical Weapons Convention and ignored the urging of the UN Security Council. Years of previous attempts at changing Assad's behavior have all failed and failed very dramatically."

Trump was an opponent of attacking the Syrian government before taking office. In 2013, he tweeted that "bad things will happen" if Obama would attack Assad's government. 

 

But Trump said that the images from this week's chemical weapon attack affected him. 

"I will tell you it's already happened that my attitude toward Syria and Assad has changed very much," Trump said shortly before Thursday's attack.

"When you kill innocent children -- innocent babies -- babies -- little babies with a chemical gas that is so lethal, people were shocked to hear what gas it was, that crosses many, many lines. Beyond a red line, many, many lines," Trump said.

Trump did not address whether he would lift a ban on accepting Syrian refugees. 

-- Information from news partner CNN contributed to this report.