US launches missiles at Syria in response to chemical attack

WASHINGTON — The Pentagon launched dozens of cruise missiles against an airfield in central Syria late Thursday in retaliation for a poison gas attack this week that U.S. officials said was carried out by President Bashar Assad’s forces.

Trump authorized the attack after he was briefed by Secretary of Defense James Mattis in Palm Beach, Fla., where the president was having dinner with Chinese President Xi Jinping. The president told press he changed his views on Assad after seeing images from the deadly gas attack.

Up to 60 Tomahawk cruise missiles were fired from hundreds of miles offshore, well out of range of Syrian air defenses, officials said. The target was a military airfield northeast of Damascus, that U.S. officials said was used to launch the lethal gas attack on Tuesday.

Pentagon officials said they were assessing the results of the strikes, adding that there are no plans for additional strikes on Thursday.

The attack marks the first time the U.S. has targeted Assad’s military in Syria’s civil war, now in its 7th year. Until now, the U.S. has focused on targeting Islamic State militants.

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