Officials from the U.S. Department of Defense said on Saturday that a joint US-British-French operation against Syria’s regime had “successfully hit every target,” countering assertions from Russia that dozens of missiles were intercepted.
“We do not seek conflict in Syria, but we cannot allow such grievous violations of international law,” Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White told reporters. “We successfully hit every target…The strikes were justified, legitimate and proportionate.”
White said the U.S. focus remains on defeating Islamic State. “It is not to get involved in the Syrian civil war.”
She noted that Washington is “still assessing” which chemicals were used in the gas attack in Syria’s Douma, which prompted the strikes, adding, however, that the Pentagon was “confident of the evidence we already had.”
A perfectly executed strike last night. Thank you to France and the United Kingdom for their wisdom and the power of their fine Military. Could not have had a better result. Mission Accomplished!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 14, 2018
Lieutenant General Kenneth McKenzie, who also participated in the briefing, said three sites that are “fundamental components of the regime’s chemical weapons infrastructure” were struck.
The operation was “precise, overwhelming and effective,” he said, adding it will set Syria’s chemical weapons program back “for years.”
McKenzie noted that strikes overwhelmed the Syrian air defense system, and none of the allied aircraft or missiles were successfully engaged by the regime, which employed 40 surface-to-air missiles.
“No Syrian weapon had any effect on anything that we did,” he underscored.
Pentagon releases photos of overnight airstrikes in Syria pic.twitter.com/28qviGMAND
— The Defense Post (@DefensePost) April 14, 2018
To carry out the strikes, the U.S. used three ships, a submarine and two B-1 bombers, with USS Monterey and USS Laboon firing from the Red Sea, USS Higgins from the northern Persian Gulf and USS John Warner from the Mediterranean.
According to McKenzie, the deconfliction line with Russia for operations in Syria was used in a “routine” way after the operation.
Contrary to the Pentagon statements, the Russian Defense Ministry claimed that most of the fired missiles were intercepted by Syria’s air defenses.
.@mod_russia : of 103 missiles, 71 intercepted by Syria’s air defences. No serious damage at airfields. Two former industrial sites hit with no people or equipment in place.https://t.co/7g05zNTWoX pic.twitter.com/0qqNZ2Pfvu
— Russian Embassy, UK (@RussianEmbassy) April 14, 2018
with reporting from AFP