Washington, DC – There was a barrage of press briefings and other major outreaches to empower the media with facts about what happened on the ground in Syria on April 13, when the US, joined by Britain and France, launched attacks on the Syrian chemical arsenal.
Addressing journalists at the Pentagon briefing room, Chief Pentagon spokesperson Dana W. White and Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie, the Joint Staff director, echoed President Donald J. Trump’s sentiments on the success of the operation.
In an early morning tweet, Trump (@realDonaldTrump) said: “A perfectly executed strike last night. Thank you to France and the United Kingdom for their wisdom and the power of their fine Military. Could not have had a better result. Mission Accomplished!”
Asked to comment on “Mission Accomplished,” White told journalists, “Last night operations were very successful. We met our objectives. We hit the sites, the heart of the chem-weapons program. So it was mission accomplished.” White said the attack on innocent civilians in Douma “demanded a response,” and the allies targeted the Syrian regime’s chemical weapons infrastructure. “We launched these strikes to limit Syria’s ability to use chemical weapons in the future,” she said. The Syrian regime killed at least 45 people and sickened hundreds of others in a chemical weapons attack on Douma, Syria, April 7.
Appearing along with White, Lt. Gen. McKenzie noted that the allied forces fired 105 weapons at a chemical weapons storage facility and a chemical bunker facility. “We selected these targets carefully to minimize the risk to innocent civilians,” the general said.
“We’ve attacked the heart of the Syrian chemical weapons program. I’m not saying that they’re going not be able to reconstitute it, not saying that it’s going to continue. This has dealt them a very serious blow, so I think that’s the core of what I’m saying,” the general noted. “We are still conducting a more detailed damage assessment, but initial indications are that we accomplished our military objectives without material interference. I would use three words to describe the operation: Precise, overwhelming and effective,” he said.
The missiles came from British, French and American platforms in the Red Sea, the Persian Gulf and the Eastern Mediterranean, McKenzie said. “All weapons hit their targets close to the designated time on target,” he said. The American ships were: the USS Monterrey, the USS Laboon, the USS Higgins and the submarine USS John Warner. Two B-1 Lancer bombers launched joint air-to-surface stand-off missiles. Support aircraft – tankers, fighters, electronic warfare aircraft and more – also participated.
“None of our aircraft or missiles involved in this operation were successfully engaged by Syrian air defenses,” McKenzie said. “We have no indication that Russian air defenses were employed.”
Overall, the Pentagon officials stressed that the strikes were to send a message to Syrian leader Bashir Assad to stop using chemical weapons against his own people.