The strike, which comprised 59 Tomahawk cruise missile launched from the guided-missile destroyers USS Ross and Porter in the eastern Mediterranean, differentiated the first time the US has become a direct fighter against the Syrian regime.
An airfield at al-Shayrat near Homs was targeted, signaling a limited initial participation on a target the military told was used to launching the sarin attack.
Though the US did target some of Syrias formidable air defenses, it did not do so largely beyond al-Shayrat or in a sustained onslaught, as it would typically do before launching a concerted airpower campaign. Instead, the Pentagon told, it assaulted aircraft, hardened aircraft shelters, petroleum and logistical storage, ammo render bunkers, air defence systems, and radars at the airfield.
Though Trump lacked both congressional and international authorization for the strike, prominent US politicians immediately lent him political cover-up.
Trump told Thursday evening at his Mar-a-Lago resort that he had ordered a targeted military strike on the airfield in Syria from where the chemical onslaught was launched.
After a frenzied day of consultation with his military consultants, including defense secretary James Mattis and national security adviser HR McMaster, Trump said it was a vital national security interest of the US to prevent the spread and use of deadly chemical weapons after previous efforts at changing Assads behavior had failed, and failed very dramatically.
Yet Trump likewise called on the international community to join us in seeking to end the massacre and bloodshed in Syria and likewise to objective terrorism of all kinds and all types, leaving it unclear whether the US objective was retaliation for the sarin gas assault, demolition of Assads chemical stockpiles, or a pushing to oust Assad from power.
For its part, the Pentagon said the strike was intended to deter the regime from applying chemical weapons again.
On Tuesday, dozens of civilians, including 10 children, were killed, apparently by a nerve agent attack on the cities of Khan Sheikhun, in a region held by the rebels who resist Assads regime.
Trump had already warned that his opinion had been changed by the shocking television images of children. And the attack went even while he was hosting the Chinese president, Xi Jinping, at Trumps Mar-a-Lago home in Florida.
The attack was apparently launched at about 8.40 pm eastern standard time 4.40 am in Syria.