WASHINGTON – The decision to meet Syria on Friday marks President Trump's second command to attack targets in the country. Last year, he authorized ato hit a Syrian airfield in response to a chemical weapons attack that the US accused Syrian President Bashar Assad. The US acted alone, focusing on a single target.
This time, the US had the United Kingdom and France at their side in a joint military operation, which instead centered on three locations, according to the Pentagon. These are not the only differences between the strikes. Here are a few key distinctions:
Number of rockets fired
Secretary of Defense James Mattis said that this year's strikes were "double" the number of weapons. Theon Saturday that this year's strikes included 1
Mattis said the strikes were much "harder" this year than in the previous year.
Number and Type of Goals
This year, the US and its allies had three objectives: two camps and one research center to be associated with the chemical weapons program of the Syrian regime. In particular, the US and its allies met the Shinshar weapons depots outside the city of Homs and the Barzeh Research Center in Damascus
. These locations were attacked because the US believed they were responsible for creating the Syrian regime's chemical weapons program. The Pentagon said that the research center is responsible for the research, development, production and testing of chemical weapons while they believe the two deposits are the location of the Syrian Arabs and a chemical weapons facility that also has a key post office for the Assad regime.
Last year, the Air Force Base was a single target – Air Base Shayrat – the base believed to be the site of the attack by the Syrian regime's chemical weapons.
"Last year, the focus was on delivery," said Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White on Saturday. "This time we left, the strikes went to research, development, storage at the heart of the company, so we are very confident that we have seriously crippled Assad's ability to make these weapons."
But that did not seem to satisfy the reporters in the Pentagon's press corps, who continued to ask for variations on how this strike would really make a difference, as was not the case last year.
Involvement of American Ally
The US has coordinated the attacks this year with Britain and France. Last year, the US carried out the attack itself.
"A combined operation with the armed forces of France and the United Kingdom is underway," President Trump said Friday evening when he announced the operation. "We thank you both."
This time, the President worked closely with British Prime Minister Theresa May and French President Emmanuel Macron and talked to them by phone all week.
"Well, that's very important," CBS News Radio's National Security Advisor Jeff McCausland said about Saturday's international response to CBSN. "Not only is it expanding military capabilities, but the significance is much more political today, showing United States solidarity with our two main allies, the British and the French."  McCausland said it also shows, "The international community will not stand idly by and pay attention to this particular, very important international law on the prohibition of the use of chemical weapons in order to give up an answer."
"But I think so More importantly, it also sends a very clear message to Moscow that the United States and its main NATO allies are in opposition to the things Russia is doing in the world. "
That does not work However, the overnight strikes are not similar to the April 2017 attack in Syria. And one question remains – despite the differences – the extent of the impact.
Official Statements Concerning the Intention of Strikes
Both strikes in the US, last year and this year, were a direct reaction to the Assad regime believed to use chemical weapons to its own people. Last year's chemical weapons strike killed dozens of civilians, just like this one. The answer was an attempt to weaken Assad's abilities and clarify the ban on chemical weapons.
"It is in this important national security interest of the United States to prevent and prevent the spread and use of lethal chemical weapons," Trump said last year, when he condemned the deaths of innocent children.
This year's message was not too different.
"The purpose of our action today is to create a strong deterrent to the production, spread and use of chemical weapons," Trump said Friday night. "The creation of this deterrent is an important national security concern of the United States."
The message in both cases was also the same: that the strikes damaged the capabilities of the Assad regime and they did not suggest that the US mission in Syria has changed.
"Our focus remains on defeating IS and it should not be involved in the Syrian civil war," said Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White to journalists.
Same last year. Then-U.S. Meanwhile released Foreign Minister Rex Tillerson said the strike did not signal a shift in US policy toward Syria.
"I would by no means try to extrapolate this to a change in our policies or attitudes compared to our military activities in Syria today, and this status has not changed," Tillerson said.
Mr. However, Trump has recently said that he wants to withdrawfrom Syria – a craving that seems to be made more difficult by the weekend's strikes. The White House has not specified a timetable for a possible strategy to remove about 2,000 US troops in Syria.
No Clear Roadmap
The White House and the Pentagon have in the past year and now the US mission and strategy not clearly outlined in Syria, as many reporters have pointed out, then and now. The government continues to insist, as White said on Saturday, that the main task is to defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and not intervene further in the Syrian civil war.
What happens next remains unclear.
"Under no circumstances does America seek an indefinite presence in Syria," Trump said Friday night. "While other nations are increasing their contributions, we look forward to the day we can bring our warriors home, and they are great warriors, and when they look around our troubled world, Americans have no illusions Do not purify the world of evil wherever tyranny prevails. "