by WorldTribune Staff, April 7, 2017
A little more than 24 hours after convening his National Security Council (NSC), President Donald Trump ordered the missile strike on an airfield from which Syrian President Bashar Assad’s forces had earlier in the week launched a chemical weapons attack.
“Everybody agreed that this was the option that they liked,” said an administration official with knowledge of the NSC meeting.
Only Trump, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, and national security adviser H.R. McMaster had knowledge the strike would happen on April 6, The Weekly Standard reported.
Two U.S. Navy destroyers stationed in the Mediterranean launched 59 Tomahawk missiles at Shayrat airbase, targeting “aircraft, hardened aircraft shelters, petroleum and logistical storage, ammunition supply bunkers, air defense systems, and radars,” according to a Pentagon statement.
The Syrian military claims seven fatalities have been reported thus far, after another Syrian official had earlier reported five deaths.
A Syrian opposition monitor claimed four soldiers were killed in the attack, including a general.
No casualties have been reported among the Russian soldiers serving in Syria.
Tillerson and McMaster told reporters on April 6 that the Russian government was not contacted before the strike and Trump was not expected to speak with Russian President Vladimir Putin on April 7.
Publicly, the Russians had backed the Assad regime’s seemingly incredible explanation for the chemical attack that the anti-Assad terrorist group Nusra Front had smuggled a chemical-weapons depot into the country and Assad’s forces had inadvertently launched the nerve gas into the air while trying to destroy its enemy’s munitions.
In private diplomatic channels, a Trump administration source says, Russia stuck by the story, which reportedly annoyed American officials and helped embolden the administration to act.