The United States began pushing back on Bashar al-Assad through a series of airstrikes on military bases in Syria late Thursday evening.
U.S. officials confirmed the attacks were targeted to the Shayrat Air Base where a chemical attack left dozens of civilians, including children, dead.
Videos of the horror quickly spread through social media, drawing outrage worldwide. Rumors swirled President Donald Trump would take action against Assad’s regime, which was blamed for the attack despite the Syrian government denying involvement.
U.S. officials said Syrian military planes were spotted dropping chemical weapons earlier this week.
"Tonight, I ordered a targeted military strike on the air field in Syria from where the chemical attack was launched," Trump said in Palm Beach Thursday evening. "It is in this vital national security of the United States to prevent and deter the spread and use of deadly chemical weapons.
Here’s how Florida politicians are reacting to the news:
U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio
"I salute the bravery and skill of the men and women of our Armed Forces who conducted this mission. Tonight's strike against the Assad regime’s Shayrat Air Base will hopefully diminish his capacity to commit atrocities against innocent civilians. By acting decisively against the very facility from which Assad launched his murderous chemical weapons attack, President Trump has made it clear to Assad and those who empower him that the days of committing war crimes with impunity are over. What must follow is a real and comprehensive strategy to ensure that Assad is no longer a threat to his people and to U.S. security, and that Russia no longer has free reign to support his regime.”
U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis
“The United States has taken decisive action in response to the heinous chemical attack on innocent Syrians by the Assad regime. President Trump has sent a clear message to the international community – our nation will no longer bow to inaction and follow, we will once again stand for justice and lead. I salute the men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces who bravely and expertly carried out this mission.”
U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo (via Twitter)
"For the first time ever Assad is held accountable for his despicable conduct. I applaud the Administration's resolve in the face of evil. After years of impunity & the death of over 500,000 people #Assad faces consequences. This sends a strong message that America will lead. No world leader can get away with gassing innocent children to death. This was long overdue. @POTUS made the right call @POTUS did today what @POTUS44 should have done in 2013. If we do not lead who will? The world is better when US stands for justice. So proud that today our country ended the world's silence about #Assad's grotesque genocide that has claimed the lives of so many in #Syria. Presidents do not need to wait for permission from Congress to respond to world emergencies. They must lead with resolve."
U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart
“I commend our troops for their effectiveness in last night’s military operation. The Assad regime has terrorized the Syrian people, and unlike the previous administration, President Trump will not tolerate Assad's egregious actions. I applaud President Trump for his stance against those who would use these horrifying weapons.”
U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz (via Twitter)
“President Trump's non-lethal destruction of the runway that launched a chemical attack against children is more than justified.”
U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (via Twitter)
“I support the airstrikes against airbase in Syria. The US did what rest of the world failed to do: lead and respond to Assad's war crimes. Admin must consult w #Congress 2 develop comprehensive strategy & objectives in #Syria.”
U.S. Rep. Dennis Ross
"I support @POTUS military action in Syria. The U.S. will not tolerate Assad's evil attacks on innocent lives, including babies and children."
U.S. Rep. John Rutherford
The Commander-in-Chief sent a very clear message - the United States will not stand idly by as innocents are murdered with chemical weapons. I commend the swift response to the atrocities in Syria. I look forward to the administration's engagement with Congress on a comprehensive strategy moving forward. I thank and salute the brave men and women of our armed forces who time and time again demonstrate their skill and dedication to the national security of our country. God Bless and protect all of those in harm’s way.”
Gov. Rick Scott
“President Trump took the right action and acted decisively. The Assad regime is responsible for the horrendous killings of innocent men, women and children. These chemical attacks against innocent Syrian people are sickening and it’s about time someone stood up for them. I appreciate our brave military heroes who conducted this mission.”
U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (via Twitter)
"I support the admin’s strike on the air base that launched the chemical attack. I hope this teaches Assad not to use chemical weapons again.
U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist
“The continued atrocities committed by Bashar al-Assad against innocent men, women, and most horrifyingly, children and infants, are an assault on humanity and must be stopped. Last night’s targeted airstrikes were a proportional and appropriate response, making clear that these war crimes will not go unanswered. Congress must also do its part and return immediately from recess to debate an Authorization for Use of Military Force to determine a comprehensive strategy for the United States and our allies. We need clear objectives to end this crisis to protect our troops and the Syrian people.
“This week’s events also speak to the urgent need to help refugees fleeing violence and persecution. Assad’s sarin gas attacks on his own people are a disturbing reminder why Syrians have been fleeing the country. The international community, including the United States, cannot turn our backs to their suffering and need."
U.S. Rep. Val Demings
"While I condemn the cruel and evil actions of Assad on innocent women and children, President Trump should have obtained Congressional approval before using military force. If the President wants to be proactive and not reactive, the United States should open its doors to women, children and men who are being slaughtered by this regime."
U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch:
"Assad's use of chemical weapons against innocent civilians was a heinous war crime. It demanded a measured response by the United States, and we’ve learned that tonight's strikes specifically targeted the air base from which the chemical attacks were launched. Our military leaders acted swiftly and professionally to send a clear message that this disregard for international law and for innocent lives will not be tolerated.
"However, the President cannot be led to believe that he has a free pass to act militarily without consulting Congress. Stopping Assad's six year-long slaughter of his own people and fighting terrorism demand a comprehensive strategy. This strike will not end the conflict. Before this Administration takes further action, Congress must finally debate an authorization for the use of military force that focuses and limits our strategy in Syria."
This is a breaking story. Check back for updates.