(AP) - President Donald Trump says the U.S. missile attack on a Syrian air base Thursday night was in the nation's "vital national security interest."
Trump spoke to reporters after the United States attacked a Syrian air base with roughly 60 cruise missiles in response to a chemical weapons attack it blames on President Bashar Assad.
Trump says the United States must "prevent and deter the spread and use of deadly chemical weapons." He says there is "no dispute that Syria used banned chemical weapons."
The president specifically referenced the children killed in the attack. "No child of God should suffer such harms," he said. "It was a slow and brutal death for so many. Even beautiful babies were cruelly burdened in this very barbaric attack."
The United States has attacked a Syrian air base with roughly 60 cruise missiles in response to a chemical weapons attack it blames on President Bashar Assad.
U.S. officials say Syrian government aircraft killed dozens of civilians by using chlorine mixed with a nerve agent, possibly sarin, earlier this week.
The bombing represents President Donald Trump's most dramatic military order since taking office. The Obama administration threatened attacking Assad's forces for previous chemical weapons attacks, but never followed through.
Earlier in the day, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says Assad should no longer have a role in governing the Syrian people.
Here is President Trump's full statement:
"On Tuesday Syrian President Bashar al Assad launched a horrible chemcial 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 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 the vital national security interest of the United 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 UN 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 Syria and also to end terrorism of all kinds and all types. We ask 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 o those who passed. And we hope as long as America stands for justice and peace and harmony , we will in the end prevail Good night and God Bless America and the entire world."