In a combined operation, the US, Britain and France today launched military strikes against Bashar al-Assad's Syrian regime, President Donald Trump announced, as he alleged the war-torn nation of using chemical weapons against its own people.
Trump said he has ordered "precision strikes" against Syria, where dozens of people were killed last weekend in a suspected toxic gas attack on Douma, the largest town in a former rebel stronghold outside Damascus.
"These are not the actions of a man; they are crimes of a monster instead," Trump said in an address to the nation.
"My fellow Americans, a short time ago, I ordered the United States armed forces to launch precision strikes on targets associated with the chemical weapons capabilities of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad. A combined operation with the armed forces of France and the United Kingdom is now underway. We thank them both," Trump said in his address to the nation.
He attacked the Assad regime for "deploying chemical weapons to slaughter innocent civilians", referring to the alleged atrocity in Douma last Saturday.
"This massacre was a significant escalation in a pattern of chemical weapons use by that very terrible regime," Trump alleged.
"The evil and the despicable attack left mothers and fathers, infants and children, thrashing in pain and gasping for air. These are not the actions of a man; they are crimes of a monster instead," he said.
He noted that chemical weapons not only inflict gruesome suffering but also even small amounts of them can unleash widespread devastation.
"The purpose of our actions tonight is to establish a strong deterrent against the production, spread, and use of chemical weapons. Establishing this deterrent is a vital national security interest of the United States," Trump said.
"The combined American, British, and French response to these atrocities will integrate all instruments of our national power -- military, economic, and diplomatic. We are prepared to sustain this response until the Syrian regime stops its use of prohibited chemical agents," he said.
Trump said he also has a message for the two governments most responsible for supporting, equipping, and financing the criminal Assad regime.
"To Iran, and to Russia, I ask: What kind of a nation wants to be associated with the mass murder of innocent men, women, and children?" he asked.
"The nations of the world can be judged by the friends they keep. No nation can succeed in the long run by promoting rogue states, brutal tyrants, and murderous dictators," he said.
Trump said Assad's recent attack was a fallout of Russia's "failure" to keep the promise of eliminating Syria's chemical weapons.
"In 2013, President Putin and his government promised the world that they would guarantee the elimination of Syria's chemical weapons. Assad's recent attack are the direct result of Russia's failure to keep that promise," Trump said.
"Russia must decide if it will continue down this dark path, or if it will join with civilised nations as a force for stability and peace. Hopefully, someday we'll get along with Russia, and maybe even Iran -- but maybe not," he said.
The US president said America, being the world's greatest and most powerful economy, has a lot to offer.
"In Syria, the United States -- with but a small force being used to eliminate what is left of ISIS -- is doing what is necessary to protect the American people. Over the last year, nearly 100 per cent of the territory once controlled by the so-called ISIS caliphate in Syria and Iraq has been liberated and eliminated," he said.
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