U.S. attacks Syrian government targets with more than 50 missiles, multiple reports say

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The United States launched a missile strike on Syria Thursday night, NBC News, CNN and Reuters reported.

"A U.S. military official told NBC that 59 tomahawks had been fired, which hit an airfield near Homs," CNBC said.

The attack is the opening of hostilities by the U.S. against Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad's government. 

Trump confirmed the strike in a brief address to reporters at his Florida home, Mar-a-Lago, where he dined Thursday night with the president of China, Xi Jinping.

Trump said even "beautiful babies were cruelly murdered in this very barbaric attack."

According to National Public Radio, Trump said he authorized the operation because it was clear Syria had unleashed "banned chemical weapons." 

"Assad choked out the lives of helpless men, women and children," the president said of the chemical attack.

The U.S. has been waging a direct war against the anti-Assad Islamic state group, also known as ISIS, in Syrian territory since 2014.

The strike came in response to Tuesday's chemical attack in Khan Sheikhoun, which killed over 70 and sickened hundreds of people.

The airfield Ash Sha'irat is where Assad is believed to have launched the chemical attack.

NBC reported that, according to U.S. officials, "people were not targeted and that aircraft and infrastructure at the site, including the runway, were hit."

On Thursday, per Reuters, Russia's deputy U.N. envoy Vladimir Safronkov had spoken of "negative consequences" if the United States retaliated for the chemical attack.

April 6, 2017, 10:04 p.m.: This story has been updated.