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Strikes Successful Against Syrian Chemical Weapons, DoD Officials Say

WASHINGTON --

The strikes last week against Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal were successful in degrading that country’s chemical weapons, research and storage facilities, the Pentagon’s chief spokesperson said today.

There have been no reports of civilian casualties from the strikes carried out by the United States, United Kingdom and France, Dana W. White said in a news conference with Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie, the director of the Joint Staff.  

The strikes took place in the early morning hours of April 14 in Syria, which was the evening of April 13 on the U.S. East Coast.

“This is a testament to the professionalism and precision of the U.S., U.K. and French forces that carried out this mission,” White said.

President Donald J. Trump announced the combined strikes were in retaliation for the regime of Syrian leader Bashar Assad using chemical weapons April 7 against civilians in Douma, Syria.

“We have seen no indication the Assad regime is prepared to launch another chemical weapons attack,” White said. “However, we remain vigilant.”

World ‘Will Not Tolerate’ Chemical Weapons Use

The United States was disappointed but not surprised yesterday, White said, to see the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons team come under attack by small arms fire after arriving in Douma.

“Assad must know the world will not tolerate the use of chemical weapons under any circumstances,” she said, adding, “What happens next is up to Bashar al-Assad.”

After the strikes, White said, Russia immediately began a misinformation campaign to “hide its complicity by sowing doubt and confusion.”

She said Russia falsely claimed Syria air defenses shot down a significant number of missiles. White said all the targets were hit in the combined strikes. “Of the surface-to-air missiles that the Assad regime launched, nearly every one was launched after the last of our missiles hit their targets,” she said.

‘Compelling’ Images of Targets

Photographs from the strikes are “pretty compelling” and show the targets were “knocked out,” McKenzie said.

“We assessed that the weapons hit the target. We achieved the level of success that we wanted against those three targets,” the general said. “We believe that there was probably some chlorine and, possibly, sarin at possibly all of the sites.”

The United States does not have access to the sites in Syria, but continues to do post-strike analysis from a distance and from overhead imagery, he added.

White noted the strikes last week were separate and distinct from the mission in Syria against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, which remains the “complete annihilation of ISIS.”

(Follow Lisa Ferdinando on Twitter: @FerdinandoDoD)

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