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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

In photos: Life slowly returning to normal as restrictions lift across U.S.

Fireworks near the Statue of Liberty in New York City marking the end of New York State's pandemic restrictions in New York State and honoring frontline workers. Photo: Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

New Yorkers and Californians celebrated most COVID-19 restrictions lifting on Tuesday, as the two states became the latest to move toward fully reopening their economies.

The big picture: The pandemic has now claimed over 600,000 lives in the U.S., but vaccines have helped drive down the seven-day average to roughly 14,000 new cases and fewer than 400 deaths per day, helping most states to ease restrictions.

China's government issues warning after sending 28 planes over Taiwan

A J-11B fighter aircraft from China's air force flying over the Dafangshen airport in Changchun, China. Photo: STR/AFP via Getty Images

China's government issued a warning to "foreign forces" after Taiwan reported a record 28 Chinese military planes flew over the self-governed island's airspace Tuesday, per Reuters.

Why it matters: The warning and deployment of aircraft including fighter jets and bombers comes after G7 leaders issued a statement Sunday urging the Chinese government to respect human rights and calling on peace and "stability across the Taiwan Strait."

Southern Baptists reject push from right to elect Ed Litton as president

Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

The Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) rejected a push from the right in a divisive vote on Tuesday, electing a president who has prioritized racial reconciliation and approving a measure that rejects any view of racism as "anything other than sin," AP reports.

Why it matters: Ed Litton, as the new SBC president, will have the power to determine committee appointments, which can set the tone for the country's largest Protestant denomination. The SBC is comprised of 14 million members.