File - In this Feb. 10, 2017 file photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, Syrian President Bashar Assad speaks during an interview with Yahoo News in Damascus, Syria. (SANA via AP)
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It was the first time Washington has directly targeted Assad's government in six years of civil war, and has pushed the administration of President Donald Trump into proclaiming that Washington still wants Assad removed from power.Airstrikes have continued unabated since the U.S. attack Friday.The base was largely evacuated before the U.S. strikes, after Washington forewarned Moscow, which in turn alerted the Syrian government, according to a senior military source in the alliance fighting in support of Assad.Describing the U.S. attack as a "limited strike" that was quickly over, another senior ally of Assad in the region said toppling him did not seem to be a priority for Trump. The Obama administration provided limited support for anti-Assad rebels, but never directly struck government targets after Obama called off such strikes four years ago, at a time when Trump also said attacking Assad would be a mistake.The first two months of Trump's presidency passed with little said about Assad's government, while extra U.S. troops arrived to help Kurdish and Arab militias in northern Syria fight against Daesh.Assad, in an interview before the U.S. attack, made clear that so-called local reconciliation agreements remain central to his strategy, along with military action.
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