As Friday began in the United States, news crews have been working diligently to sort out the details of last night’s airstrike on the Syrian airbase where forces loyal to Assad launched the chemical attack earlier in the week hat left scores of civilians dead. The footage below comes courtesy of the Pentagon and Russian drones that surveyed the damage on the ground.
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The swift response marks a decided turn in Trump’s position on Assad. He authorized the strike, which included a reported 59 Tomahawk missiles that struck an air base near Homs. The missiles, which hit at 3:45 a.m, sent a direct message to Syria about their use of chemical weapons.
Russian officials were not pleased with the air strike. They had troops at the base and have been providing material support for the Syrian regime, as well as air defenses for the government’s air space. There were Russians at the base when the attack occurred.
Reaction from the rest of the global community has been more supportive. Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a statement praising the air strike. “In both word and action, [Trump] sent a strong and clear message. The use and spread of chemical weapons will not be tolerated.”
The video below, released today by the Pentagon, shows footage of the missiles launching from U.S. destroyers in the Mediterranean.
Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus weighed in, too: He called the air strike “important and meaningful.” Turkey wants to see more action from the global community. “We see the (airstrikes) as positive, but we believe that this should be completed. The Assad regime’s barbarism must immediately be stopped.”
Completely stopping the barbarism may be more complicated than one single air strike. Assad’s regime represents only one faction fighting in the country. The secular rebels that oppose Assad are also fighting factions from the Islamic State. Russia has a growing military presence, and Iran and Hezbollah have horses in the race, too.
What makes Syria such a valuable piece of middle eastern real estate? Not only is the country rich in oil reserves, it is centrally located in a region beset by war and chaos. That alone would be enough motivation for some regional players, but Russians are far more interested in Syria’s coastline and the foothold a partnership with the regime would give them in the Mediterranean.