PALM BEACH, Fla. — President Trump said he ordered targeted air strikes against a Syrian airfield Thursday in retaliation for the regime's chemical weapons attack against civilians this week.

"It is in the vital national security interest of the United states to prevent and deter the spread and use of deadly chemical weapons," Trump said Thursday night. "Tonight I call on all civilized nations to join us in seeking to end the slaughter and bloodshed in Syria."

Speaking to reporters from Mar-a-Lago, the resort he owns in Palm Beach, Trump condemned Syrian President Bashar Assad, saying he "choked out the lives of helpless men, women and children."

"Numerous previous attempts at changing Assad’s behavior have all found and failed very dramatically. As a result, the refugee crisis continues to deepen and the region continues to destabilize, threatening the United States and its allies," he said.

Trump delivered the three-minute statement with the help of two teleprompters and stuck to his script. He was surrounded by top aides, including chief strategist Steve Bannon, chief of staff Reince Priebus and daughter and adviser Ivanka Trump. Minutes earlier, Chinese President Xi Jinping and his delegation left Mar-a-Lago following a formal dinner in advance of working meetings on Friday.

"We pray for the lives of the wounded. As long as America stands for justice, then peace and harmony will in the end prevail."

Photos: Chemical attack kills dozens in Syria