On April 4, the Assad regime released a chemical weapons attack on civilians in Syria that left more than 70 people dead, including many children.
“It crossed a lot of lines for me. When you kill innocent children, innocent 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,” President Trump said in the attack aftermath.
The Syrian military initially denied using chemicals agents, but hundreds have suffered from symptoms that are consistent with a reaction to specific nerve agents after the alleged Syrian government air strike.
Witnesses give testimony of seeing warplanes attack Khan Sheikhoun 30 miles south of the city of Idlib, where many were asleep at that time.
Mariam Abu Khalil, a 14-year-old resident of the town that was attacked, told the New York Times she saw an aircraft drop a bomb on a one-story building a few dozen yards away after she had left home for her examination on the Quran.
The explosion was described to have formed a yellow mushroom cloud into the air which stung the eyes of anyone nearby. People began to arrive on scene to help those that were wounded but unknowingly inhaled the gas and died.
Many people have criticized President Trump for his scrutiny towards former President Obama and his desire to be involved in the Syrian conflict in 2013. President Trump has made it known that the chemical attack in Syria has in fact changed him, stating that he is subject to such evolving and flexibility.
“I will tell you that attack on children yesterday had a big impact on me. Big impact. It was a horrible, horrible thing. I’ve been watching it and seeing it, and it does not get any worse than that. I have that flexibility. And it is very, very possible, and I will tell you it is already happened, that my attitude toward Syria and Assad has changed very much,” President Trump said.
That following Friday the United States fired dozens of cruise missiles at a government controlled airbase in Syria in retaliation for the suspected chemical weapons attack on a rebel-held town.
The Pentagon released the following statement:
“At the direction of the president, U.S. forces conducted a cruise missile strike against a Syrian Air Force airfield today at about 8:40 p.m. EDT (4:40 a.m., April 7, in Syria). The strike targeted Shayrat Airfield in Homs governorate, and were in response to the Syrian government’s chemical weapons attack April 4 in Khan Sheikhoun, which killed and injured hundreds of innocent Syrian people, including women and children.The strike was conducted using Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles (TLAMs) launched from the destroyers USS Porter and USS Ross in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea. A total of 59 TLAMs targeted aircraft, hardened aircraft shelters, petroleum and logistical storage, ammunition supply bunkers, air defense systems, and radars. As always, the U.S. took extraordinary measures to avoid civilian casualties and to comply with the Law of Armed Conflict. Every precaution was taken to execute this strike with minimal risk to personnel at the airfield.”
This retaliation created even more controversy due to the fact that the cruise missiles killed many civilians in the attack.
Aljazeera reported that at least six people were killed in the early morning strike, according to the Syrian army, which denounced the US “aggression” as a violation of international law.
The Trump administration’s response to issues of foreign policy has been an aggressive one. President Trump seems adamant about keeping his word of aiming to end terrorist attacks, such as the chemical weapons attack. Some blame the chemical attack on the previous administration, with the White House releasing a statement calling it a result of Obama’s “weakness.”
President Trump demonstrated more of that “flexibility” on April 13, when the United States military announced that it had dropped a GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast Bomb, otherwise known as the Mother Of All Bombs on an ISIS underground camp in response to another attack.