The Pentagon is backing President Donald Trump’s assertion that the missile strikes on Syria were “Mission Accomplished!”
Trump used the haunting political phrase “Mission Accomplished!” in a tweet Saturday morning to praise the “perfectly executed strike” against Syria. President George W. Bush famously spoke under a “Mission Accomplished” banner in 2003 when he declared that major combat operations in Iraq were over, but the war dragged on for years.
Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White says, “It was mission accomplished.” She acknowledged, however, that one of the goals of the strikes was to deter Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government from using chemical weapons again. She says, “It is too soon to know if that will be the case.”
White says the strikes “were very successful. We met our objectives. We hit the sites.”
The Pentagon says they believe the airstrikes “attacked the heart of the Syrian chemical weapons program.”
Lt. Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, the director of the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Pentagon, says the U.S.-led airstrikes against Syria has been “a very serious blow.”
The U.S., France and Britain launched military strikes on Saturday morning in Syria to punish President Bashar Assad (bah-SHAR’ AH’-sahd) for an apparent chemical attack against civilians last week and to deter him from doing it again.
Chief Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White says the target choices were “very methodical,” calling it a “deliberate decision” to go after chemical weapons facilities. She says the U.S. was confident that they had “significantly degraded his ability to use chemical weapons ever again.”
The Pentagon says none of the missiles filed by the U.S. and its allies was deflected by Syrian air defenses, rebutting claims by the Russian and Syrian governments.
Lt. Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, the director of the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Pentagon, says: “None of our aircraft or missiles involved in this operation were successfully engaged by Syrian air defenses.” He says there also is no indication that Russian air defense systems were employed early Saturday in Syria.
The Russian military had previously said Syria’s Soviet-made air defense systems downed 71 out of 103 cruise missiles launched by the United States and its allies.
McKenzie says 105 weapons were launched against three targets in Syria.
Characterizing the strike as a success, McKenzie says, “As of right now we’re not aware of any civilian casualties.”
A U.N. Security Council diplomat says the council will meet later Saturday at Russia’s request.
Russia and Syria disagree with Western allies that gas was used by Syrian President Bashar Assad’s forces to suppress opposition close to Damascus in an April 7 attack.
Iranian officials have made calls to Syrian leaders in the wake of the U.S.-led airstrikes against Syrian targets.
Iran’s president, Hassan Rouhani (hah-SAHN’ roh-HAH’-nee), tells Syria’s Bashar Assad (bah-SHAR’ AH’-sahd) that America’s goal is to justify its continued presence in the region.
That description of their conversation comes from Syrian and Iranian state news agencies.
Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, has spoken with his Syrian counterpart, too. Zarif says the U.S. is using allegations of chemical weapons to justify attacking Syria before inspectors from a chemical weapons watchdog agency begin their work.
Iran’s state-run IRNA news agency says Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (hah-meh-neh-EE’) has called the U.S.-led airstrikes on Syria a “military crime.”
He spoke at a meeting with Iranian officials and ambassadors from some Islamic countries.
The report quotes Khamenei as calling the leaders of the United States, Britain and France — the countries that launched the attack — “criminals.”
NATO representatives are planning a special session to hear from U.S., British and French officials about their military strike against Syria.
The alliance briefing is expected later Saturday, and NATO’s secretary-general has expressed strong support for the coordinated military action aimed at the Syrian governor’s chemical weapons program.