Broadcast networks and their cable news partners broke in to primetime programming in the East tonight to report that two U.S. warships in the Mediterranean Sea have launched 50 to 60 Tomahawk cruise missiles against a government-controlled airbase in Syria. President Donald Trump made a brief taped address about the situation. Watch it here and read the transcript below:
U.S. officials believe Shayrat Airfield in Homs province was used to launch airstrikes that dropped chemical weapons against civilians on Tuesday. At least 100 people were killed in the gas attack including dozens of children. Officials said the U.S. missiles tonight targeted the airfield’s runway, aircraft and fuel points.
TV news outlets gathered panels of military experts and Washington pundits to discuss the strike, Trump’s response and what’s next. “This is the start,” retired Air Force Lt. Col. Rick Fransona told Anderson Cooper on CNN. “If this doesn’t do it, if the Syrians don’t get the message, then we ramp it up to the next airbase. But … do we want to go down that road? Are we doing a military action, or are we starting a war?”
ABC broke in while an episode of Scandal was airing in the Eastern time zone, NBC cut in on Chicago Med, and CBS was airing Life in Pieces.
Here is the text of Trump’s address tonight, per the White House Press Office:
My fellow Americans: 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 helpless 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.
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 U.N. Security Council.
Years of previous attempts at changing Assad’s behavior have all failed, and failed very dramatically. As a result, the refugee crisis continues to deepen and the region continues to destabilize, threatening the United States and its allies.
Tonight, I call on all civilized 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. We ask for God’s wisdom as we face the challenge of our very troubled world. We pray for the lives of the wounded and for the souls of those who have passed. And we hope that as long as America stands for justice, then peace and harmony will, in the end, prevail.
Goodnight. And God bless America and the entire world. Thank you.