Trump defends 'mission accomplished' statement after strike on Syria

MANDEL NGAN  AFP  Getty Images		President Trump addresses the nation on the situation in Syria on Friday at the White House

Trump tweeted "Mission Accomplished" on Saturday after U.S., French and British warplanes and ships launched more than 100 missiles almost unopposed by Syrian air defenses.

That followed a Saturday tweet in which Trump said the Syrian operation was "perfectly executed" and "could not have had a better result".

His choice of words recalled a similar claim associated with President George W. Bush following the US -led invasion of Iraq. Bush addressed sailors aboard a Navy ship in May 2003 alongside a "Mission Accomplished" banner, just weeks before it became apparent that Iraqis had organized an insurgency that tied down USA forces for years.

The nighttime Syria assault was carefully limited to minimise civilian casualties and avoid direct conflict with Syria's key ally, Russia, but confusion arose over the extent to which Washington warned Moscow in advance.

The Pentagon said Syria fired 40 surface-to-air missiles, but most were launched after the damage was done.

Defense Secretary James Mattis said the U.S.is certain that chlorine was used in the attack and has not ruled out the possibility that the nerve agent sarin was present as well.

"It's a tough contradiction for him to sort out", the official said.

Syria has been locked in a civil war since the Arab Spring of 2011, pitting rebel groups who seek to depose the Assad regime against Russia-backed government forces.

White stood by Trump's assessment of "mission accomplished".

No military response from any actors in Syria - including Iran and Russian Federation - has been seen, the Pentagon said. "This time, the strikes went to the very heart of the enterprise, to the research, to development, to storage".

Later, President Bush admitted that the banner was a mistake.

The U.S. -led operation won broad Western support. And now you know the full story, ' he said.

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Time and time again we hear this demeaning rhetoric spewed, attacking our public educators and public employees. After the day's events, Bevin made the comment about teachers to a group of reporters outside the Capitol.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel called the attack "necessary and appropriate".

Britain and France joined the U.S. in launching airstrikes against Syrian government facilities, meant to show president Bashar al Assad that he will not be able to chemical weapons without consequences. In fact, Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said no additional attacks were planned.

The president wrote "Mission Accomplished!" in regards to the strikes coordinated by the USA, the United Kingdom and France against Syrian targets.

Several U.S. officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said it was not a priority for the administration to push out Assad, who has survived with massive aid from Iran and Russian Federation.

A USA official said that while top aides such as Defense Secretary Jim Mattis had persuaded Trump to avoid the tougher action the president initially wanted, arguing that that would have risked escalation with Assad ally Russian Federation, the administration is no closer to crafting a comprehensive strategy on the war in Syria. "It does not exist anymore".

While there appears to be no immediate alternative to the so-called Geneva Process that would lead to a political transition in Syria, several senior USA officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, insisted it has failed and it was time to rethink. "The strikes don't alter that reality", Ross said.

"None of these military actions are large enough to deter chemical-weapons use when Assad thinks it's strongly in his advantage".

Disputing the Russian military's contention that Syrian air defence units downed 71 allied missiles, McKenzie said no USA or allies missiles were stopped.

French officials said the country faced a "double complexity" in carrying out operations: There was the more than 4,300-mile distance the French military traveled and then the synchronization required with allies. He said the US knew of no civilians killed by allied missiles.

"The Geneva Process hasn't worked and it's time to find something new or change it", said one US official. The World Health Organization said 70 were killed in the attack, with 43 dying from chemical exposure.

But British Prime Minister Theresa May said there was little doubt the Syrian government used a barrel bomb - large containers packed with fuel, explosives and scraps of metal - to deliver the chemicals at Douma.

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