WASHINGTON — The United States and European allies launched airstrikes on Friday night against Syrian research, storage and military targets as President Trump sought to punish President Bashar al-Assad for a suspected chemical attack near Damascus last weekend that killed more than 40 people.
Britain and France joined the United States in the strikes in a coordinated operation that was intended to show Western resolve in the face of what the leaders of the three nations called persistent violations of international law. Mr. Trump characterized it as the beginning of a sustained effort to force Mr. Assad to stop using banned weapons, but only ordered a limited, one-night operation that hit three targets.
“These are not the actions of a man,” Mr. Trump said of last weekend’s attack in a televised address from the White House Diplomatic Room. “They are crimes of a monster instead.”
Shortly after the attack, the Syrian presidency posted on Twitter, “Honorable souls cannot be humiliated.”
The strikes risked pulling the United States deeper into the complex, multisided war in Syria and raised the possibility of confrontation with Russia and Iran, both of which were supporting Mr. Assad with military forces. Within 90 minutes, the Russian ambassador to the United States warned of “consequences” for the allied attacks.