National Security

Mattis on Military Action Against Syria: This Was a ‘Heavy Strike’

Defense Secretary James Mattis called the coordinated air strikes against three targets in Syria by the U.S. with Britain and France "a heavy strike" on Friday night.

Mattis said at the Pentagon that the air strike Friday used double the weapons of the one President Donald Trump ordered last year and were against targets the U.S. believed were "selective to hurt the chemical weapons program."

"We were not out to expand this. We were very precise and proportionate, but at the same time, it was a heavy strike," he said.

Trump announced the strike Friday at the White House, saying it was part of an effort to deter the spread and use of chemical weapons. The Bashar al-Assad regime reportedly carried out a chemical attack last week on a rebel-held suburb of Damascus, killing dozens.

"The purpose of our actions tonight is to establish a strong deterrent against the production, spread, and use of chemical weapons," Trump said. "Establishing this deterrent is a vital national security interest of the United States. The combined American, British, and French response to these atrocities will integrate all instruments of our national power: military, economic, and diplomatic."