U.S. to hit Rus­sia with new sanc­tions for aid­ing As­sad

The Times Herald (Norristown, PA) - - OBITUARIES - By Hope Yen and Robert Burns

WASH­ING­TON » Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump on Sun­day de­fended his use of the phrase “Mis­sion Ac­com­plished” to de­scribe a U.S.led mis­sile at­tack on Syria’s chem­i­cal weapons pro­gram, even as his aides stressed con­tin­u­ing U.S. troop in­volve­ment and plans for new eco­nomic sanc­tions against Rus­sia for en­abling the gov­ern­ment of Bashar As­sad.

Step­ping up the pres­sure on Syria’s pres­i­dent, U.S. Am­bas­sador Nikki Ha­ley in­di­cated the sanc­tions to be an­nounced Mon­day would be aimed at send­ing a mes­sage to Rus­sia, which she said has blocked six at­tempts by the U.N. Se­cu­rity Coun­cil to make it eas­ier to in­ves­ti­gate the use of chem­i­cal weapons.

“Every­one is go­ing to feel it at this point,” Ha­ley said, warn­ing of con­se­quences for As­sad’s for­eign al­lies.

“The in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity will not al­low chem­i­cal weapons to come back into our ev­ery­day life,” she said. “The fact he was mak­ing this more nor­mal and that Rus­sia was cov­er­ing this up, all that has got to stop.”

Trump tweeted Sun­day that the strike was “per­fectly car­ried out” and that “the only way the Fake News Me­dia could de­mean was by my use of the term “Mis­sion Ac­com­plished.”” He added that he knew the me­dia would “seize” on the phrase, but said it should be used of­ten. “It is such a great Mil­i­tary term, it should be brought back,” he wrote.

Trump tweeted “Mis­sion Ac­com­plished” on Satur­day af­ter U.S., French and Bri­tish war­planes and ships launched more than 100 mis­siles nearly un­op­posed by Syr­ian air de­fenses. While he de­clared suc­cess, the Pen­tagon said the pum­mel­ing of three chem­i­cal­re­lated fa­cil­i­ties left enough oth­ers in­tact to en­able the As­sad gov­ern­ment to use banned weapons against civil­ians if it chooses.

His choice of words re­called a sim­i­lar claim as­so­ci­ated with Pres­i­dent George W. Bush fol­low­ing the U.S.-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 or­ga­nized an in­sur­gency that would tie down U.S. forces for years.

Later Sun­day, Trump sent a let­ter to con­gres­sional lead­ers in­form­ing them in writ­ing of his de­ci­sion to or­der the strike. Un­der the War Pow­ers Res­o­lu­tion, the pres­i­dent must keep Congress in­formed of such ac­tions.

Ha­ley made clear the United States won’t be pulling troops out of Syria right away, say­ing U.S. in­volve­ment there “is not done.”

Ha­ley said the three U.S. goals for ac­com­plish­ing its mis­sion are mak­ing sure chem­i­cal weapons are not used in a way that could harm U.S. na­tional in­ter­ests, de­feat­ing the Is­lamic State group and hav­ing a good van­tage point to watch what Iran is do­ing.

“We’re not go­ing to leave un­til we know we’ve ac­com­plished those things,” she said.

Ha­ley said the joint mil­i­tary strike “put a heavy blow into their chem­i­cal weapons pro­gram, set­ting them back years” and re­it­er­ated that if As­sad uses poi­son gas again, “the United States is locked and loaded.”

French Pres­i­dent Em­manuel Macron said Sun­day that France wants to launch a diplo­matic ini­tia­tive over Syria that would in­clude West­ern pow­ers, Rus­sia and Tur­key. Speak­ing on French tele­vi­sion BFM and on­line site Me­di­a­part, Macron stressed that the French diplo­macy is able to talk with Iran, Rus­sia and Tur­key on one side and to the United States on the other side.

He said, “Ten days ago, Pres­i­dent Trump wanted to with­draw from Syria. We con­vinced him to re­main.”

The night­time as­sault on Syria was care­fully lim­ited to min­i­mize civil­ian ca­su­al­ties and avoid di­rect con­flict with Rus­sia, but con­fu­sion arose over the ex­tent to which Wash­ing­ton warned Moscow in ad­vance. The Pen­tagon said it gave no ex­plicit warn­ing. The U.S. 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.”

Rus­sia has mil­i­tary forces, in­clud­ing air de­fenses, in sev­eral ar­eas of Syria to sup­port As­sad in his long war against antigov­ern­ment rebels.


In this im­age re­leased by the De­part­ment of De­fense, a U.S. Air Force B-1 Bomber sep­a­rates from the boom pod af­ter re­ceiv­ing fuel from an Air Force KC-135 Stra­totanker on en route to strike chem­i­cal weapons tar­gets in Syria. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump...

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