Secretary of State Rex Tillerson confirmed on Thursday night that President Vladimir Putin was not given advance notice of the United States’ decision to strike a Syrian target with missiles.
“No contacts were made with Moscow, with President Putin,” Tillerson told reporters during a briefing with National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida.
He blamed the Russians for failing to prevent the use of chemical weapons in Syria, calling them “complicit or incompetent,” which is why the United States took action.
According to the Pentagon, Russian ground forces in the area were given a “deconfliction” notice prior to the attack.
Tillerson said that President Trump believed acting in this way against the Syrian regime was “appropriate” and proportional” and that the response from American allies was “overwhelmingly supportive.”
President Donald Trump ordered the launch of cruise missiles at an air base in Syria in response to dictator Bashar al-Assad using chemical weapons against his own people. McMaster said that Trump authorized the strike after meeting with members of the National Security Council in both Washington D.C. and at his estate at Mar-a-Lago Florida.
According to the Pentagon, the strike targeted Shayrat Airfield in Syria in response to the chemical weapons attack on April 4. A total of 59 tomahawk missiles were launched from the Destroyers USS Porter and USS Ross in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea.
“The use of chemical weapons against innocent people will not be tolerated,” said Pentagon Spokesman Captain Jeff Davis after the strike.
According to McMaster, the strikes did not target sarin gas storage units, but rather the airport and aircraft that were used to launch the chemical weapon attack.
“This was not a small strike,” McMaster said, adding that he expected a “big shift” if Assad’s understanding of when America would act.