Watch: What Trump told Americans about the cruise missile strike on Syria

The United States fired a barrage of cruise missiles on Thursday night into Syria in retaliation for this week's gruesome chemical weapons attack against civilians, US officials said.

It was the first direct American assault on the Syrian government and Donald Trump's most dramatic military order since becoming president.

About 60 US Tomahawk missiles, fired from warships in the Mediterranean Sea, targeted an air base in retaliation for a chemical weapons attack that American officials believe Syrian government aircraft launched with a nerve agent, possibly sarin.

Here is the full text of Trump's speech on the Syria strike: 

My fellow Americans, on Tuesday, Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad launched a horrible chemical weapons attack on innocent civilians. Using a deadly nerve agent, Assad choked out the life of innocent men, women and children. It was a slow and brutal death for so many, even beautiful babies were cruelly murdered in this very barbaric attack. No child of God should ever suffer such horror.

Tonight (Thursday) I ordered a targeted military strike on the airfield in Syria from where the chemical attack was launched. It is in this vital, national security interest of the United States to prevent and deter the spread and use of deadly chemical weapons. There can be no dispute that Syria used banned chemical weapons, violated its obligations under the Chemical Weapons Convention and ignored the urging of the U.N. Security Council.

Years of previous attempts at changing Assad’s behaviour have all failed and failed very dramatically. As a result, the refugee crisis continues to deepen, and the region continues to destabilise, threatening the United States and its allies.

Tonight I call on all civilised nations to join us in seeking to end the slaughter and bloodshed in Syria. And also, to end terrorism of all kinds and all types.

We ask for God’s wisdom as we face the challenge of our very troubled world. We pray for the lives of the wounded and for the souls of those who have passed. And we hope that as long as America stands for justice, that peace and harmony will in the end prevail.

Good night, and God bless America and the entire world. Thank you.

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