Trump says 'something should happen' with Assad as United States weighs military options


Just before Donald Trump authorised a Tomahawk missile strike on Syria's Shayrat air base Hillary Clinton had called for airstrikes against Syria.

"I think what Assad did is bad", Trump told reporters traveling with him on Air Force One en route to Florida.

"I think what happened in Syria is a disgrace to humanity and he's there, and I guess he's running things, so something should happen", Trump said, stopping short of calling on Assad to leave office.

Air strikes on Friday hit the Syrian town of Khan Sheikhoun, where a chemical attack killed scores of people this week, a witness in the rebel-held area and a war monitoring group said.

Similarly, Britain's government "fully supports" USA strikes against a Syrian air base launched after a suspected chemical attack on Tuesday, a spokesman said.

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Trump has until now focused his Syria policy nearly exclusively on defeating Islamic State militants in northern Syria, where US special forces are supporting Arab and Kurdish armed groups.

Trump, who had long said the top USA priority in Syria should be to fight Islamic State, immediately ordered a list of options to punish Assad, according to senior officials who took part in the flurry of closed-door meetings that played out over two days.

Going further than Trump's comments, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said there may be no future for Assad as Syria's leader. However, a media official for the Syrian National Coalition has expressed hope that the U.S. strikes will continue in order to stop Syrian government air strikes and the "use of internationally banned weapons". "Even handsome babies were cruelly murdered in this very barbaric attack", Trump said Thursday evening, as the US military strikes in Syria were underway.

Tonight, I ordered a targeted military strike on the airfield in Syria from where the chemical attack was launched. Their target was the Shayrat airfield from which the United States says the Assad regime launched a poison gas attack on a rebel-held town this week that killed dozens of civilians including many children. However, the toughest direct United States action to date in six years of civil war in Syria signals a sudden shift in policy by Washington and increases the likelihood of confrontation with Assad's main military allies, Russian Federation and Iran.

Israeli officials said the United States had informed them about the airstrikes ahead of time, but it was not clear whether Israel provided intelligence or any other form of input to the White House to support carrying out the attack.