Following reports that the Syrian government has used chemical weapons against its own citizens, the U.S. has launched its first direct strike on Syrian forces in the entirety of the six year-long civil war.
No casualties were reported in the attack. The U.S. government had reportedly warned Russian forces of the impending strike, allowing them time to retreat so as to avoid any Russian casualties and a possible retaliation. Despite this, Russian President Vladimir Putin called the strike “aggression against a sovereign nation” on a “made up pretext,” saying that it seriously damaged Washington-Moscow ties.
Meanwhile, several European leaders showed support for the move, as did Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. German Chancellor Angela Merkel called the move “understandable” amidst the Syrian suffering, while Erdogan said the attack was “an important step to ensure that chemical and conventional attacks against the civilian population do not go unpunished.”
Chemical weapons had previously been used by the Syrian government during the Obama administration. Then-Secretary of State John Kerry struck a deal with the Syrian forces to dismantle chemical weapons supplies.