The US, Britain and France launched missile strikes on Syrian targets early on Saturday morning.
General James Mattis, US secretary of defence, told reporters that the operation had targeted chemical weapons capabilities and used “double the amount of weapons” as last year’s strike.
The 2017 raid involved 59 cruise missiles. This one used 105 missiles.
They hit the city of Homs and in areas east, west and south of the Syrian capital Damascus.
Trump and Theresa May both claimed the airstrikes were a response to a reported chemical weapons attack on a suburb in eastern Damascus last week. The Syrian regime has waged a brutal campaign to crush rebels in the town of Douma, eastern Ghouta.
Hundreds of thousands of Syrians have been killed by the regime’s bombs, and dictator Bashar al-Assad is perfectly capable of using chemical weapons against civilians.
But details of the reported attack had not been confirmed. The airstrikes came just hours before inspectors from the United Nations’ Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons were due to begin an investigation.
The British ministry of defence said four Royal Air Force Tornados had taken part in the assaults launching Storm Shadow missiles. These are air-launched cruise missiles.
May will be glad the attacks took place before parliament returns on Monday. Large numbers of MPs had demanded a vote before any military action, and the Tories might have lost.
May also knows that a YouGov poll a few days earlier showed just 22 percent of people backing missile strikes on Syria with 43 percent opposed.
The attacks will mean more killing and destruction. They will do nothing to end the horror in Syria or ease the suffering of Syrian people who face the murderous dictator Assad and imperialist intervention.
The politicians who laud the raids are the same ones who set their face against refugees—including Syrian children—being allowed to seek safety in Britain, the US or France.
They are the same ones who ignore or urge on the recent massacres of unarmed Palestinian demonstrators in Gaza by the Israeli army.
They are the same ones who say there is never enough money for health or education but there is always money for war.
It is stinking hypocrisy.
The Stop the War Coalition said, “In sanctioning killing at the behest of Donald Trump, May deliberately avoided consulting parliament and risked dramatically widening the war.”
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn accused May of “trailing after Donald Trump” and insisted that the prime minister should have sought parliamentary approval first.
“Bombs won’t save lives or bring about peace,” he said. “This legally questionable action risks escalating further an already devastating conflict."
But other Labour MPs backed the attacks.
Trump acted because to do nothing would have made him look weak after he had tweeted threats against Assad and his backers. The bombs and missiles were fired to project an image of imperial power - although their restricted nature also reveals the limits of US strength.
Trump tweeted "Mission Accomplished" which he may or may not know is an echo of the banner that stood behind George W Bush when he declared combat operations over in Iraq in May 2003. Hundreds of thousands more deaths were to come.
There is danger now is that the missile strikes could lead to even more war in Syria and wider confrontation.
Mattis said that “Right now, this is a one-time shot”. But acts of war have unknown consequences.
Washington's top general, Joesph Dunford, said Russia's forces in Syria had been warned through existing "deconfliction" channels that Western planes would be in Syrian air space, but that the US had not revealed the target sites or timing in advance.
Russians could have been killed.
In response to the assaults, the Russian ambassador to the US said that "such actions will not be left without consequences".
And the Western strikes will embolden Israel in its hostility to Iran.
Members of Trump’s inner circle are already making reckless and bloodthirsty boasts.
During his nomination hearings on Thursday, Trump’s new secretary of state nominee, CIA head Mike Pompeo, said, “In Syria, now, a handful of weeks ago the Russians met their match. A couple hundred Russians were killed.”
This was a reference to an incident in February in which the US launched an airstrike against pro-Assad forces near Deir al-Zour in Syria after US-backed Kurdish troops believed they were under attack.
It is the first time a US official has confirmed what happened.
Around 200 people joined a protest against bombing Syria, called by the Stop the War Coalition, outside Downing Street in London on Friday evening.
Speaking to the protest Stop the War convenor Lindsey German said, “This has nothing to do with helping the people of Syria. It has everything to do with who is going to carve up the Middle East.”
She said that action by the West could “lead to a much bigger war in the Middle East and perhaps a bigger war in other parts of the world as well. We have to make sure that we don’t allow them to go down that road”.
Protester Reiko told Socialist Worker, “I really fear a major military confrontation between the US and Russia in Syria”.
Another protester, Sandy, said, “We’ve seen from Afghanistan and Iraq how intervention would kill more people. How will bombing Syria help?”
The missile strikes are an outrage whether they went to parliament or not.
Now that bombing has started, everyone who is against the war has to make sure there are mass protests—and stop Britain from further military adventures in the Middle East.
The only solution in Syria is a return of the popular revolutions that swept the Arab world in 2010-11 and tore down dictators and Western puppets.