The Syrian military has continued to bomb the northwestern town of Khan Sheikhoun from an air base controlled by the Assad regime, killing at least one civilian, despite a U.S. missile bombardment of that same air base on Thursday.
President Trump authorized the launching of 59 Tomahawk missiles Thursday night in response to a chemical attack on the aforementioned town earlier in that week that killed at least 86 civilians, including 26 children. The president explained his decision, in part, as an effort to “prevent and deter the spread and use of deadly chemical weapons.”
“When you kill innocent children, innocent babies, babies, little babies, with a chemical gas that is so lethal – people were shocked to hear what gas it was - that crosses many, many lines, beyond a red line, many, many lines,” Trump said.
However, the airbase was in use again within 24 hours.
It is important to note that the United States, along with a coalition of allies, has been bombing Syria since September 2014 — and the strike on Thursday was far from the first attack authorized by President Trump.
In March, during an alleged attempt to hit al-Qaeda militants in the northwestern city of al-Jineh, U.S. military forces bombed a mosque in Syria and killed at least 42 civilians. Eyewitnesses said that there were no militants among the dead, only those who’d gone to pray, as a researcher from Human Rights Watch told ATTN:.
The bodies of the dead were dug up by the volunteer civil defense group known as the White Helmets, which said 10 bodies were too charred to identify.
Numerous deadly strikes also took place under former President Barack Obama. Indeed, by the time U.S. voters were headed to the polls, U.S. strikes had killed at least 850 Syrian civilians, according to the monitoring group Airwars.
The strike this week, though tactically ineffective, is nonetheless Trump’s most high-profile engagement in the Syrian conflict, garnering both praise and criticism.
Many media outlets and personalities praised Trump for his actions, some implying they made him more presidential. Some opponents, however, including Rep. John Conyers Jr (D-Mich.), questioned the constitutionality of Trump’s actions, which were undertaken without congressional approval.
On Saturday, Trump delivered a letter to Congress explaining his military actions and claiming that he was willing to take more if necessary.
"I acted in the vital national security and foreign policy interests of the United States," the letter stated, "pursuant to my constitutional authority to conduct foreign relations and as Commander in Chief and Chief Executive."