US president thanks London and Paris for their wisdom and power while Russia loses UN vote to condemn airstrikes
Donald Trump hailed the strikes carried out against Syria by the US, UK and France as perfectly executed on Saturday, adding: Could not have had a better result. Mission Accomplished!
The US president thanked London and Paris for their wisdom and the power of their fine Military in joining Washington in launching more than 100 missiles on Friday night against what they say were Syrian chemical weapons facilities.
Trump added: So proud of our great Military which will soon be, after the spending of billions of fully approved dollars, the finest that our Country has ever had. There wont be anything, or anyone, even close!
Trump announced the military action in a speech late on Friday, a week after the Syrian regime was accused of carrying out a chemical weapons attack in the Damascus suburb of Douma that left 40 people dead and hundreds injured. The president said he had directed the US military to conduct precision strikes against Assads chemical weapons capabilities, with targets including a scientific research center in the Syrian capital and two chemical weapons storage facilities west of Homs.
Trumps use of mission accomplished less than 24 hours after launching the missiles echoed George W Bushs infamous 2003 speech a month after US troops were deployed in Iraq. Although Bush did not utter the phrase during his televised address, he stood under a Mission Accomplished banner and spoke of how the US and its allies had prevailed. The event later became a symbol of the controversy as the war dragged on and resulted in the deaths of thousands of American troops and tens of thousands of civilian casualties. Thousands of US troops remain in Iraq today.
The Pentagon struck a similarly defiant tone in a briefing with reporters Saturday, where officials labeled Friday nights airstrikes a success.
Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White said: We met our objectives. We hit the sites, the heart of the [chemical] weapons program. So it was mission accomplished.
Lt Gen Kenneth McKenzie, the director of the joint chiefs of staff, described the mission as precise, overwhelming and effective.
Officials at the Pentagon notably would not set a bar for what would constitute further military action, nor did they directly respond to how the US might respond if Russia or Iran made good on their threats to engage in retaliatory strikes.
The Pentagon also disputed the Russian militarys claims that Syrian air defense units had downed 71 out of 103 cruise missiles launched by the US and its allies. The Russia disinformation campaign has already begun, White said.
As the strikes sparked concerns that the coordinated attacks might have escalated confrontation with Russia, the Trump administration made clear that further military action was not off the table.
If the Syrian regime uses this poisonous gas again, the United States is locked and loaded, Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the United Nations, said at an emergency security council meeting on Saturday.
Haley added that the US had worked in lockstep with the UK and France in a bid to deter the future use of chemical weapons by Assads regime.
Weve spent a week talking about the unique horror of chemical weapons, she said. The time for talk ended last night. We are confident we have crippled Syrias chemical weapons programme. We are prepared to sustain this pressure if the Syrian regime is foolish enough to test our will.
Haley also took an aggressive tone toward Russia, which called the emergency meeting and has thus far blocked the security council from taking action in Syria.
We cannot stand by and let Russia trash every international norm that we stand for and allow the use of chemical weapons to go unanswered, she said.
UN resolution rejected
A Russian resolution at the UN security council condemning the airstrikes met with a stinging diplomatic defeat. Moscow gained support from only two other countries, China and Bolivia.
Four council members Ethiopia, Kazakhstan, Peru and Equatorial Guinea abstained, while the remaining eight members voted against.
After the vote, the Russian envoy, Vassily Nebenzia said: Today is a very sad day for the world, the UN, its charter, which was blatantly, blatantly violated.
Meanwhile a senior administration official on Saturday went further than the Pentagon in saying sarin nerve agent was used by the Assad regime in Douma on 7 April.
We assess that chlorine and sarin were used in the attack, the official said, pointing as evidence to the nature of the victims symptoms, such as the narrowing of pupils in their eyes, and the effects on their nervous systems, along with the sheer lethality of the gas.
The launch of more than 100 missile strikes drew mixed reaction in Washington, with some calling Trumps decision illegal.