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US Says Syrian Chemical Weapons Program Crippled

April 14, 2018 by  

VOA – Military planners and U.S. President Donald Trump are hailing the U.S.-led airstrikes on Syrian chemical weapons facilities as a complete success, with every missile hitting its target. The United States, France and Britain launched the strikes early Saturday morning, dropping 105 missiles on three Syrian chemical weapons facilities — one in the capital of Damascus and two others near Homs, near the border with northern Lebanon. U.S. military officials said all of the missiles hit their targets within minutes of each other, reducing the facilities to rubble.

“We’ve attacked the heart of the Syrian chemical weapons program,” Lt. Gen. Kenneth McKenzie told Pentagon reporters Saturday.

“This has dealt them a very serious blow,” he said. “I think the words cripple and degrade are good accurate words.”

The U.S. said all three of the targets — the Barzah Research Center in Damascus and the storage facilities near Homs — were involved in the production and deployment of both chlorine and sarin gas, but that initial assessments of the strikes showed no indications any of the chemical agents had been released into the air as a result.

The U.S. rejected accusations that civilians may have been killed in the joint operation, but left open the possibility some civilians could have been hurt by Syria’s counter measures.

McKenzie said Syria launched 40, non-guided, surface-to-air missiles in response to the strikes on the three chemical weapons facilities, and that the vast majority of them were fired after the U.S.-led strikes were over.

“When you shoot iron [missiles] into the air without guidance, it’s going to come down somewhere,” he said.

The Syrian Foreign Ministry Saturday condemned what it called “the brutal American-British-French aggression …which constitutes a flagrant violation of international law.”

Russia, Syria’s ally and a key backer of President Bashar al-Assad, decried the U.S.-led operation as a failure, saying the majority of the rockets fired at Syria were intercepted by the Syrian government’s air defense systems.

U.S. military officials dismissed such claims, calling the Syrian response “remarkably ineffective.” Officials also said Russian air defense systems were not used to thwart the strikes.

Prior to the Pentagon briefing, U.S. President Donald Trump took to Twitter to declare the strikes a success.

“A perfectly executed strike last night,” Trump tweeted. “Could not have had a better result. Mission Accomplished!”

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