President Donald Trump’s decision to order military strikes in Syria sets his presidency on a new and unpredictable course that is likely to shape his time in office.
The U.S. military launched 59 cruise missiles at a Syrian military airfield late on Thursday, in the first direct American assault on the government of President Bashar al-Assad since that country’s civil war began six years ago.
The operation, which the Trump administration authorized in retaliation for a chemical attack killing scores of civilians this week, dramatically expands U.S. military involvement in Syria and exposes the United States to heightened risk of direct confrontation with Russia and Iran, both backing Assad in his attempt to crush his opposition.
President Trump said the strike was in the “vital national security interest” of the United States and called on “all civilized nations to join us in seeking to end the slaughter and bloodshed in Syria. And also to end terrorism of all kinds and all types.”
“We ask for God’s wisdom as we face the challenge of our very troubled world,” he continued. “We pray for the lives of the wounded and for the souls of those who have passed and we hope that as long as America stands for justice then peace and harmony will in the end prevail.”