April 22, 2018

Trump declares 'mission accomplished' in Syria strike

15 April 2018, 06:02 | Opal Carroll

Russia Accuses Britain of 'Staging' Syrian Chemical Attack

Russia threatens to freeze cooperation with US

The U.S. launched what President Trump said were "precision strikes" on targets associated with the Syrian chemical weapons program.

President Donald Trump ordered strikes, in coordination with France and Britain, to punish President Bashar Assad for an apparent chemical attack against civilians, officials said.

The strikes seemed unlikely to have much impact on the balance of power in Syria's seven-year-old civil war, in which Assad's government has steadily gained the upper hand against armed opponents since Russian Federation intervened in 2015.

Behind closed doors, Trump pushed for a more aggressive response than the one taken past year, wanting options that would involve attacks on targets in Syria associated with Russian Federation and Iran, officials said. A sarin attack triggered Trump's decision a year ago to strike a Syrian air base.

Following air strikes on Syrian government targets last night, Vladimir Putin said in a statement earlier today that Russian Federation would convene an emergency meeting to discuss the action.

"Last night, operations were very successful", Pentagon spokesperson Dana White said at a Saturday morning briefing.

Earlier in the day, the United Kingdom, the United States and France launched airstrikes at Syria over reports of a chemical attack in the city of Douma.

Later, Trump tweeted: "Mission Accomplished".

"The point is to make sure there is no proliferation of chemical weapons", he added. Still, the EU's goal is to prevent an escalation of the conflict, Mogherini said, calling for an immediate ceasefire and a "genuine political transition" in Syria.

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"We are prepared to sustain this pressure if the Syrian regime is foolish enough to test our will".

His generals pushed back, not wanting to escalate tensions with those two countries, the officials said.

France announced that the combined strikes had destroyed a "large part" of Damascus's stocks of chemical weapons.

The United States, France and Britain launched retaliatory strikes on the Syrian regime early Saturday, a week after an alleged chemical attack on an ex-rebel town, despite warnings from Russian Federation. That makes degrading it through military strikes far more hard.

Support from elsewhere in Europe was more muted, with Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni saying his country didn't provide its usual logistical support to western military operations in the eastern Mediterranean.

As Russia and the U.S. traded barbs at the United Nations over the coalition strike on Syria, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley warned that the "locked and loaded" should the Syrian regime decide to use chemical weapons again. But she says, "We can not allow such grievous violations of global law". A USA spokeswoman said Friday the allies had "proof".

"Mission accomplished" is the same phrase former President George W. Bush infamously used in 2003, after the USA -led invasion of Iraq.

The Trump administration offered veiled threats on Saturday about future military action and mixed remarks about the degree to which it believed sarin was used by Syria's government, which denies it used chemical weapons. Tehran also slammed the US's decision of launching air strikes in Syria.

While his response at the time drew some praise, it appears not to have deterred Assad's regime from deploying chemical weapons in its effort to reclaim areas controlled by rebel forces.

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