US media has quoted officials as saying that images of a chemical weapons attack on Syrian civilians last week had pushed President Donald Trump to launch 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles at Syria’s Shayrat air base on Thursday night.
The Washington Post quoted senior administration officials and members of Congress who spoke with Trump as saying the president was especially struck by two images.
One showed young, listless children being splashed with water in a frantic attempt to cleanse them of the nerve agent, while the other showed an anguished father holding his twin babies, swathed in soft white fabric, poisoned to death.
It added that as the carnage unfolded on cable news, which the president watches throughout the day and deep into the night, Trump turned to his senior staff, talking about how “horrible” and “awful” the footage out of Syria was, said one top adviser.
“What the world saw last night was the United States commander-in-chief, and also a father and grandfather,” Kellyanne Conway, counselor to the president, said on Friday. “The world recoiled in horror at babies writhing and struggling to live. And who could avert their gaze - and that includes our very tough, very resolute, very decisive president.”
On Thursday, when a subdued Trump addressed the nation, he spoke of “beautiful babies” cruelly murdered, declaring, “No child of God should ever suffer such horror.”