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Friday evening, the United States launched missile strikes on Syria in response to a chemical weapons attack brought by Assad's regime on Syrian civilians. President Trump said the strikes were carried out in cooperation with Britain and France.

In a briefing at the Pentagon, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph Dunford, along with British and French counterparts, announced that three targets in Syria were "struck and destroyed." All of which were specifically associated with the Syrian regime's chemical weapons program.

Defense Secretary James Mattis announced earlier in the Pentagon briefing, "tonight France, the United Kingdom and United States took decisive measures to scrape the Syrian weapons infrastructure... clearly the Assad regime did not get the message last year."

  • General Dunford detailed in the briefing tonight the first target was a scientific research center in the greater Damascus area, specifically for testing chemical and biological warfare.
  • The second was chemical weapon storage facility west of Homs, Syria, Dunford added "this was the primary location of Syrian sarin...production equipment."
  • The third target was in the vicinity Homs, and contained a chemical weapons equipment storage facility and was an important Syrian command post.

In his announcement, Trump singled out Iran and Russia regarding their response to the chemical attacks: “To Iran and Russia I ask: what kind of nation wants to be associated with the mass murder of innocent men, women and children?... We are prepared to sustain this response until the Syrian regime stops its use of prohibited chemical agents.”

  • Trump continued saying, “These are not the actions of a man. They are crimes of a monster instead... The purpose of our actions tonight is to establish a strong deterrent against the production, spread and use of chemical weapons."

The big picture: The strike comes on the heels of the U.S. declaring that Bashar al-Assad's regime carried out the chemical attack that killed dozens of civilians last Saturday. It also comes one year after Trump decided on pinprick strikes in response to another regime attack.

The AP is reporting "loud explosions light up skies over Syrian capital, heavy smoke as President Trump announces airstrikes." Reuters confirmed the U.S.' use of Tomahawk missiles in the latest strike, the same missiles used in the strike on Syria one year ago.

The UK's Theresa May has announced a coordinated response, "This evening I have authorised British armed forces to conduct co-ordinated and targeted strikes to degrade the Syrian Regime’s chemical weapons capability and deter their use... And while this action is specifically about deterring the Syrian Regime, it will also send a clear signal to anyone else who believes they can use chemical weapons with impunity."

Go deeper

Scoop: Gina Haspel threatened to resign over plan to install Kash Patel as CIA deputy

CIA Director Gina Haspel. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

CIA Director Gina Haspel threatened to resign in early December after President Trump cooked up a hasty plan to install loyalist Kash Patel, a former aide to Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), as her deputy, according to three senior administration officials with direct knowledge of the matter.

Why it matters: The revelation stunned national security officials and almost blew up the leadership of the world's most powerful spy agency. Only a series of coincidences — and last minute interventions from Vice President Mike Pence and White House counsel Pat Cipollone — stopped it.

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John Weaver, Lincoln Project co-founder, acknowledges “inappropriate” messages

John Weaver aboard John McCain's campaign plane in February 2000. Photo: Robert Schmidt/AFP via Getty Images)

John Weaver, a veteran Republican operative who co-founded the Lincoln Project, declared in a statement to Axios on Friday that he sent “inappropriate,” sexually charged messages to multiple men.

  • “To the men I made uncomfortable through my messages that I viewed as consensual mutual conversations at the time: I am truly sorry. They were inappropriate and it was because of my failings that this discomfort was brought on you,” Weaver said.
  • “The truth is that I'm gay,” he added. “And that I have a wife and two kids who I love. My inability to reconcile those two truths has led to this agonizing place.”