A combined operation with armed forces with France and The United Kingdom is now underway. We thank them both.
Tonight I want to speak with you about why we have taken this action. One year ago Assad launched a savage chemical weapons attack against his own innocent people. The United States responded with 58 missile strikes that destroyed 20 percent of the Syrian air force.
Last Saturday, the Assad regime again deployed chemical weapons to slaughter innocent civilians, this time in the town of Douma near the Syrian capital of Damascus. This massacre was a significant escalation in a pattern of chemical weapons use by that very terrible regime.
The evil and the despicable attack left mothers and fathers, infants and children, thrashing in pain and gasping for air. These are not the actions of a man; they are crimes of a monster instead.
The purpose of our actions tonight is to establish a strong deterrent against the production, spread and use of chemical weapons. 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. We are prepared to sustain this response until the Syrian regime stops its use of prohibited chemical agents.
The nations of the world can be judged by the friends they keep. No nation can succeed in the long run by promoting rouge states, brutal tyrants and murderers dictators.
In 2013, President Putin and his government promised the world that they would guarantee the elimination of Syria's chemical weapons. Assad's recent attacks and today's response are the direct result of Russia's failure to keep that promise. Russia must decide if it will continue down this dark path or if it will join with civilized nations as they force for stability and peace. Hopefully, someday we’ll get along with Russia and maybe even Iran, but maybe not.
America does not seek an indefinite presence in Syria, under no circumstance. As other nations step up their contributions we look forward to the day when we can bring our warriors home, and great warriors they are. Looking around our very troubled world, Americans have no illusions. We cannot purge the world of evil or act everywhere there is tyranny. No amount of American blood or treasure can produce lasting peace and security in the Middle East. It's a troubled place. We will try to make it better, but it is a troubled place.
The United States will be a partner and a friend, but the fate of the region lies in the hands of its own people.
In the last century, we looked straight into the darkest places of the human soul. We saw the anguish that can be unleashed and the evil that can take hold.
By the end of World War I, more than 1 million people had been killed or injured by chemical weapons. We never want to see that ghastly specter return. So today, the nations of Britain, France, and the United States of America have marshaled their righteous power against barbarism and brutality.
Tonight I ask all Americans to say a prayer for noble warriors and our allies as they carry out their mission. We pray that God will bring comfort to those suffering in Syria. We pray that God will guide the whole region with a future of dignity and of peace. And we pray that God will continue to watch over and bless the United States of America. Thank you and good night.