United States President Donald Trump has warned Syria’s government that he is “locked and loaded” to strike again if it carries out new chemical attacks.
The warning came after the US, UK and France struck three Syrian sites in response to a suspected deadly chemical attack in the town of Douma a week ago.
Meanwhile, Syria has denied any chemical use and says that attack was fabricated by rebels.
A UN Security Council vote brought by Syria’s ally, Russia, and condemning the US-led strikes was rejected.
The wave of strikes represents the most significant attack against President Bashar al-Assad’s government by Western powers in seven years of Syria’s civil war.
On Saturday, after the strike tweeted hailing the strikes as “perfectly executed”. He also thanked the UK and France.
His use of the phrase “Mission Accomplished” drew a warning from President George W Bush’s ex-press secretary Ari Fleischer:
The phrase had been on a banner as Mr Bush declared the end of “major combat operations” in Iraq in May 2003, six weeks after the US-led invasion of the country. The following Iraqi insurgency questioned the validity of the statement.
Mr Trump had announced the strikes on TV on Friday night, saying the three allies had “marshalled their righteous power against barbarism and brutality”.
He spoke to Mrs May and French President Emmanuel Macron by telephone on Saturday, agreeing the operation had been a success.
– where was hit –
At a Pentagon briefing on Saturday, Lt Gen Kenneth McKenzie listed the three targets that had been struck, saying the attacks had “set the Syrian chemical weapons programme back years”:
- The Barzah chemical weapons research and development centre near Damascus was hit by 76 missiles, 57 of them Tomahawk cruise missiles, and “destroyed”
- The Him Shinshar chemical weapons storage facility near Homs was hit by 22 missiles – nine US Tomahawks, eight British Storm Shadows and five naval cruise missiles and two Scalp cruise missiles launched by France
- The Him Shinshar chemical weapons bunker facility near Homs was targeted with seven Scalp missiles and was “successfully hit”
Gen McKenzie said the “initial indications are that we accomplished the military objectives without interference from Syria”.
He said “none of the aircraft or missiles were successfully engaged” by defence systems and all aircraft had returned.
Gen McKenzie said about 40 Syrian defence missiles were fired, mostly after the targets were hit.
The Pentagon briefing conflicted with information given at a Russian defence ministry briefing, which said 103 cruise missiles had been launched and 71 were shot down by Syrian systems.
Both the Russians and the US said there were no reported casualties. Syria says three people were hurt near Homs.
The US said it had communicated with Russia ahead of the strikes through the normal procedures of their “deconfliction” hotline but no details of the attacks were given.
There had been concerns that if the allied strikes had hit Russian military personnel, it would have further escalated tension.
The US says the scale of the strikes was about “double” what was launched in April 2017 after a chemical attack on the town of Khan Sheikhoun that killed more than 80 people.