The United States has fired a barrage of cruise missiles into Syria in retaliation to a chemical weapons attack which Washington has blamed on President Bashar Assad.
According to top officials, the Tomahawk missiles were fired from two warships in the Mediterranean Sea, targeting a government-controlled air base in the war-torn country. The surprise strike took place last night.
Earlier this week, the Syrian government aircraft killed more than 80 civilians by using chlorine mixed with a nerve agent, possibly sarin, in rebel-held northern Idlib.
The bombing represents President Donald Trump's most dramatic military order since taking office. The Obama administration had threatened attacking Assad's forces for previous chemical weapons attacks, but never followed through.
Trump calls on 'civilized nations' to join US strikes
In a brief statement, President Donald Trump called on 'all civilized nations' to join the US in seeking an end to the carnage in Syria.
"Peace and harmony will prevail so long as the US continues to stand for justice," he said.
Trump also noted that the attack was in the nation's 'vital national security interest'.
"The United States must prevent and deter the spread and use of deadly chemical weapons. There is no dispute that Syria used banned chemical weapons," he said.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had on Thursday said that said that President Bashar Assad should no longer have a role in governing the Syrian people after this week's chemical attack and that ‘Washington was evaluating an appropriate response’.
Tillerson said that there was ‘no doubt in our minds that Assad's government was behind the attack’.
Tillerson also issued a warning to Russia that it should ‘consider carefully’ its support of Assad's government. He said that the images of dead women and children ‘horrified all of us’ and attacks of this nature cannot be tolerated.
Russia is a key supporter of the Assad government.