US launches strike on Syria air base after chemical weapons attack

Strike hit Shayrat Air Base from which Syria forces reportedly launched attack.

The Pentagon said that the airstrike, which targeted Shayrat Air Base in Homs Province -- where the chemical attack was initiated earlier in the week -- struck multiple targets with tomahawk missiles launched between 8:40 and 8:50 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, from destroyers USS Porter and USS Ross in the Mediterranean Sea.

In a statement to Syrian state TV, the Syrian army said the attack had left six people dead and several injured, in addition to "big material losses."

On Tuesday, a chemical weapon attack on a Syrian town killed at least 86 civilians. Blame for the assault has landed on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad despite the Syrian government's condemnation of the attack and insistence that rebels fighting in the country's civil war were at fault. The Turkish Health Ministry later determined that Sarin was used in the attack, based upon autopsies of some of the victims.

"There can be no dispute that Syria used banned chemical weapons, violated its obligations under the chemical weapons convention and ignored the urging of the U.N. security council," Trump said Thursday night. "Years of previous attempts at changing Assad's behavior have all failed and failed very dramatically."

After the airstrike, a Pentagon spokesman reported that missiles were directed at "aircraft, hardened aircraft shelters, petroleum and logistical storage, ammunition supply bunkers, air defense systems, and radars." A U.S. official said that Russia, which has personnel stationed at the base, was notified of the airstrikes in advance. The Pentagon noted that "extraordinary measures" were taken to prevent Russian casualties.

In response to the attack, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that Russian President Vladimir Putin regarded the strike "as aggression against a sovereign nation" that was carried out "in violation of international law, and also under an invented pretext."

Viktor Ozerov, the head of Russia's parliamentary defense committee, said Moscow would call for an urgent U.N. Security Council meeting to discuss the military action.

From his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida where he is meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping, Trump called on allies to join the U.S. in ending the violence in Syria.

"Tonight, I call on all civilized nations to join us in seeking to end the slaughter and bloodshed in Syria and also to end terrorism of all kinds and all types," said Trump.

Earlier in the week, with video of victims being hosed down with water as they writhed in pain made its way across the world, President Trump denounced the act in strong terms while also placing some of the culpability on his predecessor Barack Obama.

"These heinous actions by the Bashar al-Assad regime are a consequence of the past administration’s weakness and irresolution," Trump said in a statement Tuesday. "President Obama said in 2012 that he would establish a “red line” against the use of chemical weapons and then did nothing."

Speaking with reporters on Air Force One Thursday en route to Florida, Trump addressed the situation in response to questions of whether Assad should remain in power.

"I think what happened in Syria is a disgrace to humanity," said Trump. "He's there and I guess he’s running things, so something should happen."

In Florida, awaiting the president's arrival, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that the country is "considering an appropriate response for [the] chemical weapons attack," and cast doubt on Assad's position as the country's leader moving forward.

"Assad's role in the future is uncertain clearly and with the acts that he has taken, it would seem that there would be no role for him to govern the Syrian people," said Tillerson. The comments were a reversal from remarks Tillerson gave in Turkey last week when he said the U.S. would not insist upon Assad's removal.

In March, 400 Marines and Army Rangers were sent to Syria to provide support to U.S.-backed rebels fighting ISIS in the country. That group brought the total number of American forces in Syria to 900, according to U.S. officials.

ABC's Conor Finnegan contributed to this report.

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.