President Trump has kept his promise to strike Syria in response to the recent chemical attack launched by the Assad regime. Tonight, U.S. air power attacked three Syrian targets.
The first was a research center believed to be used to develop chemical weapons. The second was a chemical weapons storage facility. The third was a command center believed to be used in connection with chemical warfare.
The U.S. acted together with the French and the British. This was a joint operation.
Unlike last April, we used manned aircraft in this attack, along with missiles. The Syrians countered by firing surface-to-air missiles.
Secretary of Defense Mattis said he is not aware at this time (about an hour after the attack) of any loss of U.S. personnel or aircraft. He was not prepared to say whether the Syrians hit any of our missiles or to assess the damage we caused. The Pentagon expects to provide information on these matters tomorrow morning.
Before attacking, we engaged in “deconfliction” talks with the Russians regarding the air space we would be using. However, we did not identify the targets we planned to strike.
This attack differed from the one last year in that, instead of targeting an air field, we targeted what can be described as infrastructure. The attack was also on a somewhat larger scale. This time we hit three targets, not just one. And, according to the Pentagon, we used about twice the amount of weaponry.
The attack was limited, though. It was not a massive strike.
Mattis emphasized that we were constrained by our desire not to endanger civilians. Apparently, the three targets were chosen over other elements of Syrian weapons infrastructure because we thought that hitting them carried less risk of civilian casualties.
I infer that the Trump administration construed Assad’s latest chemical attack as strike two. The next Syrian attack — strike three — will likely produce a large-scale U.S. response.
I hope the Syrians and the Russians draw the same inference.