U.S.: Chemical weapons use in Syria devastated
Will set chemical weapons program back ‘for years’
A withering missile attack early Saturday by U.S., British and French forces destroyed three Syrian facilities, setting back the country’s chemical-weapons program “for years,” Pentagon officials said.
The 105 sea- and air-launched missiles “successfully hit every target,” officials said. There was only a limited and “largely ineffective” response by Syria, officials said. The strikes come one week after reports of a grisly chemical attack in the town of Douma that killed more than 40 people.
In a largely uncontested attack, U.S., British and French forces unleashed 105 missiles on three Syrian chemical weapons facilities early Saturday, leveling at least one building and setting back the country’s chemical weapons program “for years,” Pentagon officials said.
The strikes targeted three areas of Syria: a scientific research center near Damascus, a chemical weapons storage facility west of Homs, and a storage facility and command post near Homs.
Lt. Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, director of the Joint Staff at the Pentagon, told reporters Saturday that the weapons used in the operation were a mix of sea- and air-launched missiles fired by U.S., British and French forces and “successfully hit every target.”
The goal, he said, was to hit the “very heart” of Syria’s chemical weap-
ons program by targeting its research, development and storage facilities. The strikes came one week after reports of a grisly chemical attack in the town of Douma that killed more than 40 people.
“This is going to set the Syrian chemical weapons program back for years,” McKenzie said.
Syrian forces fired 40 surface-to-air missiles during the operation, mostly after the attack was over, he said.
“They were largely ineffective and increased risk to their own people,” he said. “None of our aircraft or missiles involved in this operation were successfully engaged by Syrian air defenses.”
He also said there was no indication that Russian air-defense systems were employed during the attacks.
McKenzie said there were no initial reports of civilian casualties in large part because the operation was planned to be carried out during the night.
“We weren’t trying to kill a lot of people,” he said.
President Trump, in a Saturday morning tweet, called the nighttime attack a “perfectly executed strike” and proclaimed, “Mission Accomplished!”
Gen. Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said late Friday that that the operation was “a onetime shot” but did not rule out further attacks.
Syrian President Bashar Assad announced his country would respond to the strikes but offered no details.
The sky over Damascus erupts with surface-to-air missile fire as the U.S. launches an attack on Syria early Saturday.
A child receives oxygen after an alleged poison gas attack in Douma.