Then he pushed the United States military back into the quagmire.
In doing so, Trump is trying to confront a dilemma that haunted his predecessor, Barack Obama. But the United Nations has documented dozens of chemical attacks since then and opposition activists claim the government has carried out hundreds of attacks with chlorine, which isn't illegal to possess but is prohibited for use as a weapon.
Trump has made clear he wants to withdraw the roughly 2000 U.S. troops involved in the anti-Islamic State campaign in Syria.
UK Prime Minister Theresa May said the strikes were not about "regime change", but "about a limited and targeted strike that does not further escalate tensions in the region and that does everything possible to prevent civilian casualties".
"We are prepared to sustain this response until the Syrian regime stops its use of prohibited chemical agents", Trump said in a televised address to the nation from the White House on Friday night.
Russia's ambassador, Vasily A. Nebenzia, said the three Western powers had carried out "aggression against a sovereign state, which is on the front lines of the fight against terrorism", without proof that chemical weapons had been used, much less by forces overseen by President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, Russia's ally.
Bahia Al-Mardini, a UK-based Syrian journalist and human rights activist who fled regime persecution, told Arab News that Assad "is fully responsible for what is now happening in Syria".
"As always, we oppose the use of force in worldwide relations and call for respect for other countries' sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity".
Less than two weeks ago, Trump spoke of bringing troops home within six months from Syria. The mission, according to Pentagon officials, has "significantly crippled" Syrian President Bashar Assad's ability to manufacture chemical weapons.
At a Cabinet meeting Monday, Trump condemned the "atrocious attack", promising speedy action. "Mission accomplished!" he added. For some, those two words represent the short-sightedness about how quickly the USA can become entangled in a protracted Middle East conflict.
Freeland made the comments on the sidelines of the summit, which Trump skipped to oversee the Syria situation.
"This strike aimed to deliver a clear and unambiguous message to the Syrian regime that their use of chemical weapons against innocent civilians is inexcusable and to deter any future use of chemical weapons", McKenzie said, adding that while more detailed damage assessment was still being conducted, initial reports showed that all three targets were taken out. We set their chemical weapons program back years.Our job was never to take Assad out. Trump suggested Friday's action will be more robust than last year's one-off. "And we have no indication that Russian air defense systems were deployed". "There are no good answers on how to address the disgusting situation in Syria", he said.
Dana W. White, the chief Pentagon spokeswoman, said that to her knowledge no one in the Defense Department communicated with Moscow in advance, other than the acknowledged use of a military-to-military hotline that has routinely helped minimize the risk of U.S.