French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said Saturday that missile strikes carried out overnight in Syria by Britain, France and the United States had destroyed a "large part" of Damascus's stocks of chemical weapons. Trump said that the "massacre" last weekend in Syria "was a significant escalation in a pattern of chemical weapons use by that very awful regime". "The US - the possessor of the biggest arsenal of chemical weapons - has no moral right to blame other countries". Missile strikes were seen across the well-lit city of Damascus, which then plunged into darkness. "But for the attacks to happen in this way at this particular time - it's taken Damascus by surprise".
He had no immediate details on casualties. After the attack ceased and the early morning skies went dark once more, vehicles with loudspeakers roamed the streets of Damascus blaring nationalist songs.
The sites were chosen to minimize civilian loss of life and possible release of chemical agents, the Pentagon officials said.
The third target, which was also near Homs, contained both a chemical weapons equipment storage facility and a command post.
Secretary of Defense Mattis said he is not aware at this time (about an hour after the attack) of any loss of US personnel or aircraft.
"On a strategic level, it's how do we keep this from escalating out of control", he said.
Trump made the point that it was in the national security interest to deter the production of chemical weapons.
Trump made clear in his eight-minute television address that he is wary of a deeper entanglement in Syria, where about 2,000 U.S. troops have been deployed to fight Islamic State. With the extremist group largely defeated, the president says he supports the withdrawal of USA forces.
"No amount of American blood or treasure can produce lasting peace and security in the Middle East", Trump said.
President Donald Trump addresses the nation on Syria
But during the weekend, images of dead and sick women and children again circulated following another alleged chemical attack. The Syrian president on Wednesday made a public appearance with a group from an worldwide Muslim body in Damascus.
But that would draw the United States more deeply into the Syrian war, a step Trump has resisted, just as Barack Obama did. "But the fate of the region lies in the hands of its own people".
The U.S., United Kingdom and France are all North Atlantic Treaty Organisation members. Syrian officials also said the bases were evacuated days ago after a warning from Russian Federation that they were likely targets.
"To Iran and to Russian Federation, I ask, what kind of nation wants to be associated with the mass murder of innocent men, women and children", Trump said in a televised address from the White House. No nation can succeed in the long run by promoting rouge states, brutal tyrants, and murderous dictators.
Shortly after Trump began a White House address to announce the action, large explosions were heard in the Syrian capital.
The ministry said that the missiles were downed by the Arab Republic's air defenses as they approached their targets.
"On the question of chemical weapons, there is a red line that must not be crossed, and if it should be crossed again, there will be another intervention", Le Drian said. Civilians and rebel forces abandoned Douma following the latest attack.
It won't alter the course of Syria's seven-year war, which Bashar Assad is winning with help from Russian Federation and Iran. This has raised fears of a possible direct clash of USA and Russian forces.
The US said it had verified chemicals were used in the attack on citizens in Douma and was confident that chlorine was used, although it had not ruled out sarin.