BBC News

Syria war: Trump's missile strike attracts US praise - and barbs

Published
media captionHow has Donald Trump's position on Syria changed?

President Donald Trump, buffeted by a sea of domestic troubles, has elicited almost universal approbation at home after his Syrian missile strike.

From right and left, praise was showered on the commander-in-chief for acting against the Assad government after this week's chemical attack.

But one or two members of Congress and some of Mr Trump's right-wing fringe supporters are upset.

On the eve of the strikes, he was the most unpopular US president in decades.

  • President Trump's statement in full
  • World reacts to US Syria strikes
  • Abu Ivanka - Trump's new Arab name

His approval rating has fallen to 40% amid the collapse of his efforts to overhaul US healthcare, investigations into possible links between his inner circle and the Kremlin, and a narrative of general disarray in his administration.

media captionWATCH: What is Trump's plan in Syria?

But Republican senators whom Mr Trump ridiculed during last year's election wholeheartedly approved of the action.

John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina praised the president in a joint statement.

"Unlike the previous administration," they said, "President Trump confronted a pivotal moment in Syria and took action. For that, he deserves the support of the American people."

media captionThe Pentagon has released video of missiles being launched from US Navy ships, targeted at a Syrian airfield.

They also urged him to go even further and "take Assad's air force… completely out of the fight".

Florida Senator Marco Rubio, another former Trump punching bag, tweeted: "I know @POTUS was deeply moved by the images & stories emerging from #SyriaChemicalAttack".

"'Be sure of this: The wicked will not go unpunished'" Proverbs 11:21," he added.

Hillary Clinton, the 2016 Democratic presidential candidate, said the action "needs to be followed by a broad strategy to end Syria's civil war".

Mrs Clinton backs the same hawkish Republican calls for the US military to take out the Syrian air force.

But she added that she hoped the administration "will recognise that we cannot in one breath speak of protecting Syrian babies and in the next close American doors to them".

What action has the US taken?

On the orders of President Donald Trump, Navy destroyers USS Porter and USS Ross fired dozens of cruise missiles at Shayrat airfield in western Homs province at about 04:40 Syrian time (01:40 GMT).

They targeted aircraft, aircraft shelters, storage areas, ammunition supply bunkers and air defence systems at the Syrian government-controlled facility, according to the Pentagon.

Her husband, former US President Bill Clinton, was accused by critics of using Tomahawk missile strikes against Iraq in 1998 to divert attention from the burgeoning scandal of his affair with a White House intern.

One of Mr Trump's most outspoken critics, Democratic Senate leader Chuck Schumer, said the president's military action was "the right thing to do".

The reaction was also laudatory among conservative radio hosts.

"We're proud of you," said talk show presenter Mark Levin of the president.

Salem Radio Network host Hugh Hewitt tweeted that the strike was "justice for these children".

But not everyone approved.

media captionTrump: "Assad choked out the lives of helpless men, women and children"

Republican Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky - often dismissed as an isolationist by the national security establishment - insisted that Mr Trump needed congressional authorisation for such action, adding: "The United States was not attacked."

Democratic Hawaii congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, who met Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in January, condemned the US strike as "short-sighted".

"This administration has acted recklessly without care or consideration of the dire consequences of the United States attack on Syria without waiting for the collection of evidence from the scene of the chemical poisoning," she said in a statement.

Ann Coulter, a conservative media personality who wrote a book titled In Trump We Trust, was not impressed either.

"Trump campaigned on not getting involved in Mideast," she tweeted. "Said it always helps our enemies & creates more refugees. Then he saw a picture on TV."

There was also dismay among the alt-right - a magnet for white nationalists and anti-Semites - some of whose members celebrated Mr Trump's election win with Nazi salutes.

Richard Spencer, a figurehead of the group, condemned the missile strikes.

Paul Joseph Watson, a London-based editor for conspiracy theory website InfoWars, tweeted: "I guess Trump wasn't 'Putin's puppet' after all, he was just another deep state/Neo-Con puppet.

"I'm officially OFF the Trump train."

Related Topics

  • Syria
  • Donald Trump
  • United States
  • Bashar al-Assad