NATIONAL- It took less than 72 hours for President Donald Trump to decide to strike Syria, after receiving reports of women and children choking to death on deadly sarin gas.
Prior to the chemical attacks on Tuesday, Trump argued Syria could be an ally in the fight against the Islamic State terrorist group. But, after seeing horrific photos of victims of the sarin gas attack in Syria, President Trump made the first major order of his campaign to launch a targeted missile strike on a Syrian airfield where the chemical attacks were launched.
Before April 4th
In 2012, President Barack Obama discussed the Assad regime and Syria.
“A red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized.,” said Obama.
A defiant Bashar al-Assad carried out a large-scale chemical attack the following year, killing 1,000 people. President Obama then threatened air strikes. At the time, Mr. Trump issued a warning on Twitter, condemning Obama’s threats to get involved.
“President Obama, do not attack Syria,” Mr. Trump wrote. “There is no upside and tremendous downside. Save your “powder” for another (and more important) day.
President Obama backed off his threat after failing to receive support for a military strike from the British Parliament and the U.S Congress.
In early April, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Assad’s future would not be a decision made by the US or international pressure.
“The status of President Assad will be decided by the Syrian people,” said Tillerson.
Tuesday, April 4th
After seeing images of the gruesome attack on Tuesday, Spokesman Sean Spicer indicated President Trump reversed his position on the Assad regime.
“America's credibility was at stake and I think the president wants to point it out that there was a red line and it did cross it. And we did talk about - we did have alternatives to regime change and they weren't taken,” Spicer said, referencing Obama’s red line comment from 2012.
The President issued a statement condemning the chemical attack as “reprehensible” and “heinous”, per CBS News.
Trump asked for more information and military options were outlined at an 8 p.m. meeting of the National Security Council's deputies’ committee, according to USA Today.
Wednesday, April 5th
USA Today reported Mr. Trump discussed Syria during an Oval Office meeting Wednesday with King Abdullah II of Jordan, which borders Syria and has borne the brunt of its exodus of refugees.
During a press conference with King Abdullah II, President Trump said the images changed his view on the Syrian conflict.
Mr. Trump said the attack crossed “many, many lines” and cannot be tolerated. He declined to say what action, if any the US would take in response.
“Yesterday, chemical attack -- a chemical attack that was so horrific in Syria against innocent people, including women, small children, and even beautiful little babies. Their deaths was an affront to humanity,” said Mr. Trump, who then added the U.S. “stands with our allies across the globe to condemn this horrific attack.”
The president also argued things might be different now if President Obama had launched military strikes in 2013.
“I think the Obama administration had a great opportunity to solve this crisis a long time ago when he said the red line in the sand.”
The United States Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley called on Russia to "do their job" in making sure their Syrian allies stop "hurting their own people".
Thursday, April 6th
At 1:30 p.m., Trump convened a national security team meeting while aboard Air Force One, en route to his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Fla., for a summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Republican Senator John McCain said "The President talked to me on the phone and said he was going to consult with General McMaster and General Mattis and make a decision there."
After landing in Florida, Trump held a 4 p.m. meeting at Mar-a-Lago with Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, Tillerson, and National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster, and gave the go-ahead for the operation in Syria.
Later, Tillerson sent a warning to Moscow.
"It is very important that the Russian government consider carefully their continued support for the Assad regime."
Russia, according to Tillerson, were not consulted about the attacks.
Shortly after dinner with Jinping, the strikes on Syria commenced. President Trump addressed the nation a few hours later.
"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. It is in the vital national security interest of the United States to prevent and deter the spread and use of deadly chemical weapons. Previous attempts at change in Assad's behavior have all failed,” said President Trump.
Friday, April 7th
“The United States will not stand by when chemical weapons are used,” said Haley at a meeting of the United Nations Security Council.
CBS News reported allies commended President Trump for taking action. The Pentagon said the strikes rendered the base in Syria unusable and no further action is called for unless Syria makes another move.
Russia supports the Syrian government and denounced the action.
“We describe the attack as a flagrant violation on international law,” said Vladimir Safronkov, Russian Deputy Envoy to the United Nations.
Tillerson is expected to travel to Moscow during mid-April. Russia said it wants an explanation on the U. S’s position.