Trump Turns on Assad, Strikes Air Base With Flurry of Cruise Missiles | Foreign Policy
The legal authority for the strikes is also unclear. The 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force, under which the United States conducts counterterror strikes in the region, applies to terrorist groups, not states. The administration could point to legal justifications drafted during the Obama administration for the 2011 intervention in Libya, which allows for unilateral, punitive strikes on humanitarian grounds. But some lawmakers — citing Trump’s own long-held positions — said that Congress must authorize deeper U.S. involvement against the Syrian regime.
Trump authorized the strike after being briefed on the target by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis earlier in the day. The cruise missile strike was on the more limited end of the range of options that secretary Mattis presented the president, a military official said. Trump is in the middle of a two-day summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping at his Palm Beach, Fla., resort.