More quotes here -- more to come.
REX TILLERSON --
It's also important to recognize, as I think everyone does, the chaotic circumstances that exist on the ground in Syria with the presence of a battle underway to defeat ISIS, the presence of Al-Qaeda elements inside of Syria and a civil war that is underway. Clearly one of the existential threats we see on the ground in Syria, is if there are weapons of this nature available in Syria, the ability to secure those weapons and not have them fall into the hands of those who would bring the weapons to our shores to harm American citizens.
So there are a number of elements that in our view that called for this action tonight, which we feel is appropriate. We feel that the strike itself was proportional because it was targeted at the facility that delivered this most recent chemical weapons attack.
We coordinated very carefully with our international partners in terms of communicating with them around the world. I would tell you that the response from our allies, as well as the region and the Middle East has been overwhelmingly supportive of the action we taken.
HR MCMASTER --
It was important during the president's deliberations and in deliberations with his leadership that we weighed the risk associated with any military action, but we weighed that against the risk of inaction, which Secretary Tillerson has already really summarized, which is the risk of this continued, egregious, inhumane attacks on innocent civilians with chemical weapons.
The president was immediately notified upon news of the chemical attack. He was very interested in understanding better the circumstances of the attack and who was responsible.
That confidence level has just continued to grow in the hours and days since the attack associated with additional evidence, especially with so sad, sadly, with the victims that are being treated and confirmation of the type of agent which was used, which is a nerve agent.
We convened a meeting of the National Security Council... to deliberate on options.
There were three options we discussed with the president, and the president asked us to focus on two options in particular, to mature those options, and he had a series of questions for us that we endeavored to answer.
We were able to answer those questions and come back to him in a decision briefing today with virtually all of the principals of the National Security Council here in Florida and by video teleconference back in Washington.
After a meeting of considerable length and a far-reaching discussion, the president decided to act and that's the general sequence of events.
So, two rather large and formal meetings, but really a whole series of discussions since the time of the attacks.
TILLERSON: As I think HR has said, this was a very deliberative process. There was a thorough examination of a wide range of options, and I think the president made the correct choice and made the correct decision. First, to be decisive in acting, acting against this heinous act on the part of Bashar Assad, but acting in a way that was clearly directed at the source of this particular attack to send that strong message.
Other things were considered. Those were rejected for any number of reasons. In my view, the president made the exact, correct decision.