Washington: United States President Donald Trump, who, for years, signalled comfort with leaving Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in power, switched course after seeing images of children gassed to death in rebel-held Idlib province after the latter unleashed a deadly chemical weapon attack on the citizens.
Hours after launching a military strike on the Syrian government target in response to the gas attack, Trump called on all ‘civilised nations’ to stop the slaughter and bloodshed in Syria. He also asserted that Assad “choked out the lives of innocent men, women and children.”
“On Tuesday, Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad launched a horrible chemical weapons attack on innocent civilians using a deadly nerve agent.
Assad choked out the lives of innocent men, women and children. It was a slow and brutal death for so many. Even beautiful babies were cruelly murdered in this very barbaric attack. No child of god should ever suffer such horror,” he said.
“Tonight I ordered a targeted military strike on the airfield in Syria from where the chemical attack was launched. It is in this vital national security interest of the United States to prevent and deter the spread and use of deadly chemical weapons. 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 behaviour have all failed and failed very dramatically. As a result the refugee crisis continues to deepen and the region continues to destabilise, threatening the United States and its allies. Tonight I call on all civilised nations to join us in seeking to end the slaughter and bloodshed in Syria, and also to end terrorism of all kinds and all types,” he added.
Earlier, on Trump’s orders, U.S. warships launched between 50-60 Tomahawk cruise missiles at the Syria Government airbase where the warplanes that carried out the chemical attacks were based, U.S. officials said.
The strikes are the first direct military action the U.S. has taken against the leadership of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the country’s six-year civil war and represent a substantial escalation of the US’ military campaign in the region, which could be interpreted by the Syrian government as an act of war.
Earlier, Trump said the chemical attack on Syria’s Idlib province affected his deeply and tranformed his thinking about the Syrian president Bashar al-Assad.
Dozens of people, including at least ten children, were killed and over 200 injured as a result of asphyxiation caused by exposure to an unknown gas on Tuesday.
According to Anas al-Diab, an activist with the Aleppo Media Center, airstrikes hit the city of Khan Sheikhoun in Idlib province giving off a poisonous gas that led to this asphyxiation.
Three more strikes hit the same city center location but did not result in any gas, al-Diab added.
The death toll is said to be at least 67, according to al-Diab, while the U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has reported it to be 58.
The High Negotiations Committee claimed the death toll could be as high as 100 with up to 400 injured.