'Mission accomplished': Trump defends boast to describe Syria strikes

Nellie Chapman
April 16, 2018

The Pentagon said Saturday that it believes the airstrikes "attacked the heart of the Syrian chemical weapons program", significantly degrading Syria's ability to use such weapons again.

Nikki Haley, the USA ambassador to the United Nations, said Sunday that the United States will place more sanctions on Russian Federation this week related to its support for Syria's chemical weapons program. "We are prepared to sustain this response until the Syrian regime stops its use of prohibited chemical agents".

Haley warned that the United States was "locked and loaded" if any new chemical attack was carried out in Syria.

United Nations chemical weapons inspectors who arrived in Syria at the weekend have promised to investigate what happened in Douma despite the air strikes against chemical weapons installations.

Asked if this meant Assad could carry on using barrel bombs and other means in the war provided he did not use chemical weapons, Johnson said that that was the "unhappy" outcome. "A pinpointed, limited action to punish and hopefully deter Assad from doing this again is appropriate, but the administration has to be careful about not getting us into a greater and more involved war in Syria", said Senate Minority Leader, Senator Chuck Schumer.

Douma was the last rebel holdout in the eastern Ghouta suburbs, the target of a government offensive in February and March that killed hundreds and displaced tens of thousands.

Russian military police had been deployed in Douma, raising complaints from the Syrian opposition that evidence of chemical weapons use might no longer be found.

Russian Federation in November used its veto three times to bury a previous UN-led inquiry which found that Syrian forces had used sarin in the attack on Khan Sheikhun in April past year.

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"I say to the foreign secretary, I say to the prime minister, where is the legal basis for this?"

Syria released video of the wreckage of a bombed-out research lab, but also of Assad arriving at work as usual, with the caption "Morning of resilience" and there were no immediate reports of casualties.

The US Ambassador to United Nations also used the occasion to defend the usage of the words "mission accomplished", by the US President Donald Trump after he ordered the military on Friday to launch airstrikes on three sites in Syria.

The leaders of Russia, Iran and the Hezbollah group in Lebanon said Sunday that Western airstrikes on their ally, Syria, have complicated prospects for a political settlement to the country's seven-year conflict.

Russian and Iranian military help over the past three years has allowed Assad to crush the rebel threat to topple him.

But until this weekend, they have refrained from targeting Assad's government, apart from a volley of U.S. missiles past year.

Sarin had previously appeared to be the threshold for intervention.

Bashar Jaafari, Syria's envoy to the United Nations, said the US, UK and France were "liars, spoilers and hypocrites" who exploited the United Nations "to pursue your policy of interference and colonialism".

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