Trump announced the airstrikes against Syria in an address to the nation on Friday night, saying the purpose was “to establish a strong deterrent against the production, spread and use of chemical weapons.”
The strikes, conducted with France and the United Kingdom, involved 105 weapons which were deployed against three targets, officials said. The Pentagon said the targets of the strikes included a Syrian research and development center in greater Damascus, a storage facility and a chemical weapons bunker west of Homs.
But Trump has made statements on the U.S. role in Syria, which is gripped by a brutal seven-year civil war estimated to have killed upward of 500,000 people and displaced millions, which has at times conflicted with administration officials. Trump this month expressed his desire to get U.S. troops out of Syria, but then agreed to keep troops there in a decision that a senior administration official characterized as reluctant.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., in a statement on Saturday said “President Trump deserves credit for working with our allies and ordering this strike against Assad” and called Assad “a ruthless butcher who has murdered hundreds of thousands of Syrians and should be considered a war criminal.”
But Graham also expressed doubts that the strikes would have a lasting impact and criticized what he said was an administration that has a strategy “to withdraw from Syria as quickly as possible.”
“I fear that when the dust settles this strike will be seen as a weak military response and Assad will have paid a small price for using chemical weapons yet again,” Graham said. “Assad has likely calculated a limited American strike is just the cost of doing business.”
“Ignoring the situation in Syria, simply saying — Not Our Problem — was a losing strategy when President Obama adopted it five years ago. And it’s a losing strategy still today,” he said.