Just as the Pentagon announced a press conference to address the success of the recent U.S.-led airstrikes on Syria, President Donald Trump tweeted out the phrase, “Mission Accomplished!”
The strikes were launched in a joint effort by France, the U.K. and the U.S. in response to a suspected chemical attack ordered by Syrian President Bashar Assad on civilians that killed dozens of people.
The Pentagon held a press conference following the airstrikes on Saturday, saying that the strike hit all its targets, and “attacked the heart of the Syrian chemical weapons program.”
Trump tweeted about what he calls “a perfectly executed strike” against Syria. He also thanked allies France and Britain “for their wisdom and the power of their fine Military. Could not have had a better result.”
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.”
In response to a Russian military claim that Syria’s Soviet-made air defence systems downed 71 of 103 cruise missiles launched by the U.S. and its allies, a Pentagon official stated retorted that none of the missiles involved in the operation were brought down by Syrian forces.
“None of our aircraft or missiles involved in this operation were successfully engaged by Syrian air defenses.” McKenzie said there also is no indication that Russian air defense systems were employed early Saturday in Syria.
Chief Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White says the target choices were “very methodical,” calling it a “deliberate decision” to go after chemical weapons manufacturing facilities.
Trump criticized Russia and Iran, Syria’s two key allies, for their roles in supporting “murderous dictators.” He also added that Russian President Vladimir Putin had guaranteed a 2013 international agreement for Assad to get rid of all of his chemical weapons. He called on Moscow to change course and join the U.S. and its allies in seeking a more responsible regime in Syria.
While Trump, along with French and British allies, insisted that airstrikes were necessary to deter Syria’s use of chemical weapons, Russia maintains that there’s no evidence chemical agents were used. The Pentagon also noted that Russia didn’t employ its defenses in Syria during the airstrike.
White maintains that the strikes don’t “represent a change in U.S. policy or an attempt to depose the Syrian regime,” but adds that, “we cannot allow such grievous violations of international law.”
The political phrase “mission accomplished,” also holds some relevance in American military history.
Back in 2003, then-president George W. Bush spoke under a “Mission Accomplished” banner when he went aboard an aircraft carrier in California to declare that major combat operations in Iraq were over — just six weeks after the invasion.
But the war dragged on for many years after that, and Bush was heavily criticized for his statement.
-With files from the Associated Press.