At 9 PM/EST on Friday, April 13, President Trump addressed the nation announcing that he ordered a coordinated strike on Syria in a joint collaboration with France and BritainUS allies. The POTUS said the strike was in response to the April 7th chemical air attack in Douma, launched by Bashar Al Assad, the head of the Syrian regime. Assad is responsible for killing hundreds of his own people with a suspected nerve agent containing chlorine. Among the dead were innocent and defenseless women, children, and infants. Thousands of others were forced underground and to outer refugee camps.

In his address, like before, Trump denounced those who stand in allegiance with a leader who kills innocent people--calling out Russia and Iran. He went on to say that the US would employ a ‘sustained response’ to Assad’s recent devastating attack. Initially, however, it was not clear if the sustained response would be an ongoing military effort or a combination of actions. It was later confirmed that a diplomatic and economic component would also be considered.

The Generals strategize and speak

Immediately following the President’s announcement, Secretary of Defense General Mattis and Chairman for the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Dunford held a Pentagon briefing to inform Americans of the strike and clarify goals as well as the intent of the strike.

Both Generals made it clear that escalation was not the objective nor was getting into a war with Russia, who has a heavy presence in Syria along with Iran. The goal, according to the POTUS, the Generals and US allies, was to ‘degrade Assad’s ability’ to use and produce chemical weapons to murder Syrians.

Secretary Mattis confirmed that the US acquired evidence proving Assad and pro-government Syrians were responsible for the chemical attack.

The General, Secretary Mattis, explained that Friday’s multi-target strike was a ‘one-time shot’ and unless chemical weapons are used again, this was the extent of US military’s part of the response.

They added that no coordination was made with the Russians nor was notification given. In planning the strikes, Secretary Mattis said that consideration was given to the possibility of ‘casualties’ and was factored into the strategy.

This was likely to have been given special consideration as Damascus, Syria’s capital is densely populated and home to a chemical research and development facility.

Why is the US involved?

Publicly on camera and on social media, President Trump pointed to his predecessor as the reason for both the 2017 US-Syrian strike and this one. The POTUS blames Obama because the former president had considered going into Syria but later decided against it.

This decision was made because of a promise made by Assad to not produce or use any more chemical weapons which he has been known to use in order to promote his agenda. Additionally, Russia assured Obama and the international community that they would see to Assad keeping his promise, thereby helping him to honor the Chemical Weapons Convention to cease and desist from production and engagement in chemical warfare.

This, of course, was not and has not been the case.

What happened?

CNN reported that Friday’s strike lasted about 70 minutes and at least one US warship and B-1 bombers were deployed in conjunction with sophisticated French and British missile-ready jets.

CNN’s Barbara Starr reported that the US military and their allies went to Damascus which is home to chemical research and development facilities associated with Assad. Going into Damascus was something new for the US because America has never before gone into Damascus in the history of the Syrian conflict.

There were two other areas targeted for strikes— west Homs and Aleppo. Gas was being stored in west Homs, an area heavily defended by Syrian and Russian air defenses and in Aleppo, chemical weapons were being produced and stored in facility and command post.

According to military analyst Rear Admiral Kirby, the US cruise missiles used in the strikes have an accurate GPS and enabled with automatic target recognition (ATR). This means launched missiles are able to change and adjust course while in flight and as it moves towards its target. Admiral Kirby commented on their usefulness when strikes are needed in tight areas like the ones in the Syrian locations.

How did it go?

In early reporting, CNN commentators stated that the strikes appeared to have been successful. However, this is not how it was reported on Syrian’s State TV which told Syrians their military, along with the Russians, intercepted and shot down several incoming missiles.

Reports from Syrian social media and CNN international correspondents reported the strike as ‘limited but one of the worst they’ve seen’ in regard to intensity.

The Russian Ambassador released a statement expressing their dismay and issued a warning to London, Washington, and Paris that there will be ‘consequences’.

To whom does success belong?

Trump proclaimed ‘mission accomplished’ in an early Saturday morning tweet, while Putin called the strike an ‘act of aggression’ at a time when Syria was making strides toward peace.

Like Syria, Russia also issued a statement saying they managed to shoot down incoming US and ally missiles, but with old Russian equipment from the 70's, reported CNN and other news source outlets. To this end, Russia sees their response as victorious. The Russian and Syrian government have referred to the strike as a criminal act and a threat to international peace.

Early Saturday morning (April 14), in a Pentagon briefing, the Director of the Joint Staff Lt. General McKenzie summed up the strike as 'precise, overwhelming and effective'.

He reported that the coordinated efforts with the UK and France allowed the multi-national military attack to release over 100 missiles. The Director added that every target was successfully hit with no causalities reported, but three were injured in the attack.

The future

Moving forward, it is expected that the White House and Defense Secretary Mattis will continue monitoring the situation. It is also anticipated that in the coming days, Russia will provide a lot of inaccurate information and launch a propaganda campaign to blame the US, according to military analyst General Marks.

In the meantime, the United Nations Security Council is expected to meet Saturday afternoon (April 14) in response to the strikes while the US, Britain, and France celebrate a job well done.