A missile strike launched by the United States against a Syrian airfield on Friday morning, local time, was a direct response to the country's use of banned chemical weapons, President Donald Trump said in a prepared statement.
In the pretaped video address, recorded in his Mar-a-Lago home in Florida, Trump said that "there can be no dispute" that the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad deployed the deadly nerve agent sarin against civilians in an attack on Tuesday that claimed over 70 lives.
"Assad choked out the lives of helpless men, women and children. It was a slow and brutal death for so many," the president said.
"No child of God should ever suffer such horror," he added.
One U.S. military official told NBC News that 59 Tomahawk missiles had been fired during the Thursday strike, marking the first direct military action against the Syrian government by the U.S. since the country's bloody civil war began in 2011.
Read the full transcript of Trump's remarks below:
"On Tuesday, Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad launched a horrible chemical attack on innocent civilians using a deadly nerve agent. Assad choked out the lives of helpless men, women and children. It was a slow and brutal death for so many. Even beautiful babies were cruelly murdered at this very barbaric attack. No child of God should ever suffer such horror. Tonight I ordered a targeted military strike on the airfield in Syria from where the chemical attack was launched. It is in this vital national security interest of the Untied States to prevent and deter the spread and use of deadly chemical weapons. There can be no dispute that Syria used banned chemical weapons, violated its obligations under the Chemical Weapons Convention and ignored the urging of the U.N. Security Council. Numerous previous attempts at changing Assad's behavior have all found and failed very dramatically. As a result, the refugee crisis continues to deepen and the region continues to destabilize, threatening the United States and its allies. Tonight I call on all civilized nations to join us in seeking to end the slaughter and bloodshed in Syrian and also to end terrorism of all kinds and all types. We asked for God's wisdom as we face the challenge of our very troubled world. We pray for the lives of the wounded and for the souls of those who passed. And we hope as long as America stands for justice, that peace and harmony will in the end prevail. Good night and God bless America and the entire world."