WASHINGTON — The United States carried out a missile attack in Syria on Thursday night in response to the Syrian government’s chemical weapons attack this week that killed more than 80 civilians, American officials said.
Dozens of Tomahawk missiles were fired at an air base in Syria, military officials said.
It was the first time that the White House had ordered military action against forces loyal to the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad.
The speed with which the Trump administration responded — and remarks earlier in the day by American officials who said that options were still being considered — appeared intended to maximize the element of surprise and sharply contrasted with the methodical scrutiny of the use of force by the Obama administration.
It was President Trump’s first order to the military for the use of force — other operations in Syria, Yemen and Iraq had been carried out under authorization delegated to his commanders — and appeared intended to send a message to North Korea, Iran and other potential adversaries that the new commander in chief was prepared to act, and sometimes on short notice.