Tonight the United States launched over 50 Tomahawk Cruise Missiles against the Syria in retaliation for Syria’s use of chemical weapons on April 4, 2017. The Tomahawks targeted the Shayrat Airfield, which is located approximately 25 miles south of Homs. Shayrat Airbase is a small installation in Syria, composed of two airfields. Initial reporting indicates that the strikes targeted aircraft and infrastructure including runways and refueling points at the Shayrat Airfield. Comments from President Trump and radar tracking indicate that Shayrat Airfield was the airfield where the planes were launched from that delivered the chemical weapons on April 4, 2017.
The chemical weapons attack in Syria dramatically changed President Trump’s attitude towards the Assad regime in Syria. Prior to the chemical attacks, President Trump indicated a warming attitude towards Bashar al-Assad. However, the chemical attacks appear to be a turning point for President Trump. President Trump stated “I will tell you it’s already happened that my attitude toward Syria and Assad has changed very much.” While this Tomahawk attack against Syria will degrade Syria’s capabilities, it will by no means undermine Assad’s capabilities to carry out further chemical weapons attacks in the future. This Tomahawk attack was a measured retaliatory attack.
Early reporting on the attack indicates that the U.S. military contacted Russian officials operating in the area that this attack was coming. Over the next several days, President Trump will have to work with President Putin and other world leaders to define what the continued response to Assad will be and how to contain Assad’s ability to use chemical weapons. Additionally, the next several days will be key for U.S. foreign policy to determine what further actions the United States will take in Syria against the Assad regime.