What We Know So Far
- U.S., British and French forces in the early hours of Saturday, April 14, conducted a coordinated "limited, targeted, effective strike" on targets in Syria.
- Russia and Iran have condemned the attacks. Russian President Vladimir Putin called the strikes "an act of aggression."
- Trump tweeted Saturday "mission accomplished."
- The Dow Jones Industrial Average, S&P 500 and Nasdaq all finished lower Friday.
The U.S., U.K. and France in the early hours of Saturday, April 14, conducted a coordinated missile attack described as a "limited, targeted, effective strike" on targets in Syria in response to a suspected chemical weapons attack by the forces of President Bashar al-Assad in the Syrian city of Douma last week.
President Donald Trump said Friday night that he authorized missile launches against Syrian targets.
Trump said the chemical attack was a significant escalation of the use of chemical weapons and he called it "evil and despicable." Speaking from the Diplomatic Room in the White House, the president said, "These are not the actions of a man. They are crimes of a monster, instead."
A perfectly executed strike last night. Thank you to France and the United Kingdom for their wisdom and the power of their fine Military. Could not have had a better result. Mission Accomplished!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 14, 2018
The president said the U.S. is "prepared to sustain" its response until Syria stops using chemical weapons against its citizens.
Pentagon officials said the missile strikes, two in Damascus and one in Homs, targeted a scientific research center, chemical weapons storage facilities and a command center.
Defense Secretary James Mattis, in a Pentagon briefing an hour after the president's announcement, said "the Syrian people have suffered terribly."
"We and our allies find the atrocities inexcusable," he said.
The object of the operations, Mattis said, is to destroy the Syrian regime's chemical weapons infrastructure. The secretary added the U.S., British and French forces have "gone to great lengths to avoid civilian and foreign casualties."
U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May on Saturday in a televised address said that full assessments of the airstrikes are taking place but the government is confident of its success.
"It was not about regime change," May said. "It was a limited, targeted, effective strike with clear boundaries."
The strikes will degrade Syria's ability to research, develop and deploy chemical weapons, May said. "Last night's strikes by U.S., U.K. and France were significantly larger than the U.S. action a year ago, and designed to have greater impact on regime's capability and willingness to use chemical weapons," she said. "The use of a nerve agent in the U.K. in recent weeks is part of a pattern of disregard for these norms."
Welcome the news of UK military strikes against major chemical weapons facilities in Syria alongside our US and French allies. The world is united in its disgust for any use of chemical weapons, but especially against civilians— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) April 14, 2018
French President Emmanuel Macron added in his own statement, "Our response has been limited to the capacities of the Syrian regime allowing the production and use of chemical weapons."
The strikes were not coordinated with the Russians, an official said, and the Russians were not pre-notified. Russian President Vladimir Putin in a Saturday statement called the U.S.-led airstrikes against Syria an "act of aggression."
Russia in "the most serious way condemns the attack on Syria, where Russian servicemen are helping the legitimate government in its fight with terrorism," the statement said, according to reports from Russian news agencies.
Statement by the Ambassador Antonov on the strikes on #Syria:— Russia in USA ���� (@RusEmbUSA) April 14, 2018
A pre-designed scenario is being implemented. Again, we are being threatened. We warned that such actions will not be left without consequences.
All responsibility for them rests with Washington, London and Paris. pic.twitter.com/QEmWEffUzx
Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, an ally of Bashar al-Assad, also condemned the attacks. "I clearly declare that the US president, the French president and the UK prime minister are criminals and have committed a crime," he said on Saturday, state agencies reported.
Trump had threatened military action against Syria for days. The White House said Friday he would consult further with allies. The PBS News Hour reported on Friday that a joint military operation could send a message of international unity about enforcing the prohibitions on chemical weapons.
The New York Times reported Friday that American officials doubted that Russia or Iran would counterattack directly against U.S. forces in the region. But, the report said, U.S. officials focused on the possibility of an retaliation that would rely on Moscow and Tehran's cybercapabilities.
Threats over military action against Syria, along with political turmoil in the White House overshadowed the start of earnings season on Wall Street Friday.
Stocks finished lower, weighed down by tensions related to the Middle East and trade concerns involving China, despite earnings beats from JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) and Citigroup Inc. (C) . The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 122 points, or 0.50%. The S&P 500 declined 0.29% and the Nasdaq fell 0.47%.