Saturday, April 8, 2017
By Jim Emerson, staff writer
Last Tuesday, in an early morning airstrike, the Syrian Air Force attacked the town of Khan Sheikhoun with Chemical weapons. The attack appeared to involve the use of sarin, a powerful and deadly nerve gas. Monitoring groups in the region believe that 70 to 100 were killed. When rescuers went to help, they were affected by the nerve agent.
Moved by the images of Syrian victims, President Trump released a statement: “Today’s chemical attack in Syria against innocent people, including women and children, is reprehensible and cannot be ignored by the civilized world.” The President blamed the previous administration for not being more aggressive against Syria’s past use of weapons of mass destruction.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that the chemical attack made it “clear that this is how Bashar al Assad operates: with brutal, unabashed barbarism.” He warned al Assad supporters that “anyone who uses chemical weapons to attack his own people shows a fundamental disregard for human decency and must be held accountable.”
While on Air Force One heading to Mar-a-Lago to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping, President Trump told reporters "I think what Assad did is terrible. I think what happened in Syria is one of the truly egregious crimes. It shouldn't have happened. It shouldn't be allowed to happen." He later added, "I think what happened in Syria is a disgrace to humanity. He's there and I guess he's running things, so something should happen."
And something indeed did happen, as on Thursday night, without any notice, the United States carried out a missile strike in Syria. Two U.S. Navy, Arleigh Burke-class destroyers, the USS Porter and the USS Ross, launched 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles targeting the Al Shayrat airfield in Syria. The Su-24s used in the Chemical attacks are stationed at that base. It was believed that Russian assets may have been on the air base before that attack. The missiles, however, were programed to target Syrian fighter jets and other infrastructure but not the facilities that store chemical weapons
The Pentagon informed Russian military officials of the strikes before missiles where launched with the understanding that the Russians may very well warn the Syrians of an impending attack. It was President Trump’s way of letting the Russians know that they were not being targeted in the strikes.
All in all, President Trump did what Obama failed to do time and again—that is, he sent a strong message to America’s enemies. No doubt North Korea, Russia, China and Iran are watching and will think twice before challenging the Trump administration.