Top military officials, including Defense Secretary James Mattis, warned President Donald Trump during an afternoon meeting Thursday that he risks escalating U.S. involvement in Syria if he goes forward with the type of aggressive bombing campaign he has pressed for over the past week, according to USA and western officials briefed on the conversation.
Mattis says the United States, along with France and the United Kingdom, struck because Syrian President Bashar Assad "did not get the message" when the USA launched airstrikes after a chemical attack in 2017.
"Together we have sent a clear message to Assad and his murderous lieutenants that they should not perpetrate another chemical weapons attack, for which they will be held accountable".
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis says military strikes in Syria are "directed at the Syrian regime" and they have "gone to great lengths to avoid civilians and foreign casualties". He called on Moscow to change course and join the West in seeking a more responsible regime in Damascus. He said the three nations have "marshaled their righteous power".
British Prime Minister Theresa May offered a similar statement shortly thereafter, saying the attacks would continue to degrade Syria.
While last year's strikes were done unilaterally, and hit one target - a Syrian regime airfield that housed about 17 percent of its air force - Dunford said Friday's strikes were conducted with two allies on multiple sites and would "result in a long-term degradation of Syria's capability to develop chemical weapons".
The White House said on Thursday (Friday NZT), that Trump would consult further with allies.
Messages are being passed to Moscow about the U.S. and its allies' intentions to create a "lasting deterrent" against the use of chemical weapons again, according to one senior administration official.
Trump launched Friday evening time that the U.S., France and Britain have launched navy strikes in Syria to punish President Bashar Assad for his alleged use of chemical weapons in opposition to civilians and to discourage him from doing it as soon as extra.
At stake in Syria is the potential for confrontation, if not outright conflict, between the United States and Russian Federation, former Cold War foes whose relations have deteriorated in recent years over Moscow's intervention in Ukraine, its interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and its support for Syrian President Bashar Assad.
The United States is attempting to calibrate its response to be strong enough to deter Assad from use of chemical weapons without destroying his government.
Trump said the strikes were in coordination with France and the United Kingdom, adding that the objective of the campaign is to "establish a strong deterrent against the production, spread and use of chemical weapons".
Following the strike, reports of a retaliatory actions emerged.
At the same time, he said, the USA had no intention to expand the strike further than chemical weapons-type targets.
United Nations ambassador Vassily Nebenzia from Moscow said on Thursday that the "immediate priority is to avert the danger of war".
A French frigate, British Royal Navy submarines laden with cruise missiles and the USS Donald Cook, an American destroyer equipped with Tomahawk cruise missiles, have all moved into striking range.
A highly placed Russian politician is likening President Donald Trump to Adolf Hitler after the launch of airstrikes against Syria, and says he regards the action as a move against Russia.
The presence of Russian troops and air defenses in Syria were among numerous complications weighing on Trump, who must also consider the dangers to roughly 2,000 American troops in the country if Russia were to retaliate for US strikes.