“A limited punitive strike certainly sends a powerful message that Assad’s behavior is beyond the pale of what is acceptable,” Carafano told The Daily Signal. “The U.S. is fighting with allies in the region to defeat ISIS to protect innocents from these kinds of atrocities. There is no reason why Assad should expect the international community to stand by while he does worse.”

Carafano, a Heritage vice president who oversees the think tank’s Davis Institute for National Security and Foreign Policy, said “the solution must be long term and part of a political process that holds the regime accountable.” He added:

Culpability here goes beyond Assad to the Russian and Iran regimes, which support this despicable behavior. Particularly abhorrent are the actions from Russia, which frustrated action in the U.N. Security Council and spread disinformation to cover up the [Assad] regime’s culpability.

Later Thursday night, Tillerson said the strikes do not indicate a change in the Trump administration’s policy on refugees from Syria.

“I would not in any way attempt to extrapolate that to a change in our policy or posture relative to our military activities in Syria today,” the secretary of state said, adding:

There has been no change in that status. I think it does demonstrate that President Trump is willing to act when governments and actors … cross the line on violating commitments they’ve made and cross the line in the most heinous of ways.

Ken McIntyre contributed to this report.