(AP) – The Pentagon says the U.S.-led airstrikes on Syria “successfully hit every target.”
Chief Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White said Saturday that the strikes were launched to “cripple Syria’s ability to use chemical weapons in the future.”
The U.S., France and Britain launched military strikes in Syria on Friday night to punish President Bashar Assad for an apparent chemical attack against civilians last week and to deter him from doing it again.
(Video: Department of Defense/U.S. Navy
White says the strikes do not “represent a change in U.S. policy or an attempt to depose the Syrian regime.” But she says, “We cannot allow such grievous violations of international law.”
She also called on Russia to “honor its commitment” to ensure the Assad regime gives up chemical weapons.
The Pentagon says none of the missiles filed by the U.S. and its allies was deflected by Syrian air defenses, rebutting claims by the Russian and Syrian governments.
Lt. Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, the director of the Joint Staff at the Pentagon, says: “None of our aircraft or missiles involved in this operation were successfully engaged by Syrian air defenses.” He says there also is no indication that Russian air defense systems were employed early Saturday in Syria.
The Russian military had previously said Syria’s Soviet-made air defense systems downed 71 out of 103 cruise missiles launched by the United States and its allies.
McKenzie says 105 weapons were launched against three targets in Syria.
Characterizing the strike as a success, McKenzie says, “As of right now we’re not aware of any civilian casualties.”
The Pentagon says they believe the airstrikes “attacked the heart of the Syrian chemical weapons program.” McKenzie says the U.S.-led airstrikes against Syria has been “a very serious blow.”
White says the target choices were “very methodical,” calling it a “deliberate decision” to go after chemical weapons facilities. She says the U.S. was confident that they had “significantly degraded his ability to use chemical weapons ever again.”
The Pentagon is backing President Donald Trump’s assertion that the missile strikes on Syria were “Mission Accomplished!”
Trump used the haunting political phrase “Mission Accomplished!” in a tweet Saturday morning to praise the “perfectly executed strike” against Syria. President George W. Bush famously spoke under a “Mission Accomplished” banner in 2003 when he declared that major combat operations in Iraq were over, but the war dragged on for years.
White says, “It was mission accomplished.”
However, one of the stated goals of the strikes was to deter Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government from using chemical weapons again. It is too soon to know if that will be the case.
White says the strikes “were very successful. We met our objectives. We hit the sites.”
The Pentagon says a Russian “disinformation campaign” has already begun over the U.S.-led airstrikes in Syria.
White said “there has been a 2,000 percent increase in Russian trolls in the past 24 hours.”
Russia’s Foreign Ministry says the attack was an attempt to derail an investigation into a purported chemical attack. The Foreign Ministry says facts presented by Russian investigators indicated that the purported attack was a “premeditated and cynical sham.”