Trump claims success in Syria, but chemical weapons remain
WASHINGTON - US President Donald Trump on Saturday declared "Mission ccomplished" for a US-led allied missile attack on Syria's chemical weapons programme, but the Pentagon said the pummelling of three chemical-related facilities left enough others intact to enable the Assad government to use banned weapons against civilians if it chooses.
"A perfectly executed strike," Trump tweeted after US, French and British warplanes and ships launched more than 100 missiles nearly unopposed by Syrian air defences. "Could not have had a better result. Mission Accomplished!"
His choice of words recalled a similar claim associated with President George W Bush following the US-led invasion of Iraq. Bush addressed sailors aboard a Navy ship in May 2003 alongside a ‘Mission Accomplished’ banner, just weeks before it became apparent that Iraqis had organised an insurgency that tied down US forces for years.
The night time Syria assault was carefully limited to minimise civilian casualties and avoid direct conflict with Syria's key ally, Russia, but confusion arose over the extent to which Washington warned Moscow in advance. The Pentagon said it gave no explicit warning. The US Ambassador in Moscow, John Huntsman, said in a video, "Before we took action, the United States communicated with Russia to reduce the danger of any Russian or civilian casualties."