President Barack Obama’s national security team is trying to make the case to skeptical U.S. lawmakers for a limited strike against the Syrian government over its alleged use of chemical weapons on Aug. 21. Following are details of missile strikes and other limited military action taken by the U.S. over the past 30 years and what transpired afterward:
r Lebanon 1983 – In September 1983, U.S. battleships anchored in the Mediterranean Sea off Lebanon shelled Syrian, Palestinian and Druze forces in the Chouf Mountains outside Beirut in support of the Lebanese army, during the complex Civil War that began in 1975.
It was one of several actions that created a perception that the United States was taking sides in the war. A month later, Shiite suicide bombers blew up the U.S. Marine and French barracks in Beirut, killing 241 Marines and 58 French paratroopers. President Ronald Reagan pulled U.S forces out of Lebanon in February 1984. Lebanon’s Civil War raged on until 1990.
r Libya 1986 – U.S. bomber aircraft struck sites in the Libyan cities of Tripoli and Benghazi, 10 days after the deadly bombing of West Berlin’s LaBelle nightclub frequented by American soldiers, which Washington blamed on Libya. Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi’s adopted daughter was alleged to have been killed, and his sons were reported wounded.
Libya was not linked to another major terrorist attack until the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, which killed 259 passengers and crew and 11 people on the ground. Libyan Abdel-Basset al-Megrahi, who denied involvement in downing the jet, was convicted of the bombing in a court in the Netherlands 2001. Gadhafi ruled Libya until his ouster in August 2011.
r Afghanistan and Sudan 1998 – President Bill Clinton responded to Al-Qaeda’s bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania with cruise missile strikes on Al-Qaeda camps in Afghanistan and the Al-Shifa pharmaceutical factory in Sudan. Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden had lived in Khartoum in the 1990s and U.S. intelligence believed the factory was producing chemical arms. European diplomats later said the factory was a primary source of medicine in Sudan.
Analysts and historians say “Operation Infinite Reach” was interpreted by bin Laden, who reportedly joked that the attack killed only camels and chickens, as evidence the United States lacked the stomach for confrontation with his forces. In October 2000, the U.S. Navy guided-missile destroyer USS Cole was hit by an Al-Qaeda suicide attack while it refueled at port in Aden, Yemen, killing 17 American sailors. A year later, the Sept. 11 attacks in New York and Washington killed nearly 3,000 people.
r Iraq 1993, 1996 and 1998 – In 1993, Clinton ordered the firing of Tomahawk missiles against the headquarters of the Iraqi Intelligence Service in response to a failed Iraqi attempt to assassinate former U.S. President George H.W. Bush.
In 1996, U.S. cruise missiles hit air defense facilities in southern Iraq in retaliation for Iraq’s attacks on minority Kurds and its challenges to no-fly zones authorized by a U.N. Security Council resolution.
In 1998, a four-day U.S. and British bombing campaign named “Operation Desert Fox” hit Iraqi weapons research and storage facilities to retaliate for Iraqi President Saddam Hussein’s refusal to cooperate fully with U.N. weapons inspectors.
U.S. officials said the strikes jolted Hussein’s hold on power, but he remained the leader of Iraq until he was ousted in the 2003 U.S.-led invasion.