Pentagon says strikes on Syria hit every target, yet with reservations on effect
The Pentagon said on Saturday that the airstrikes against the Syrian government had hit every target, but admitted that "there's some left" for the alleged Syrian chemical weapons after the attack.
The United States, along with Britain and France, launched joint airstrikes on military targets in Syria on Saturday for its alleged use of chemical weapons in Douma, the last rebel-held town in Eastern Ghouta near the Syrian capital, earlier this month.
Speaking at a press conference, Pentagon spokesperson Dana White said the strikes had successfully hit every target.
Marine Lt. Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr., director, Joint Staff, speaks during a media availability at the Pentagon, Saturday, April 14, 2018, in Washington. [Photo:AP/Alex Brandon]
U.S. Joint Staff Director Gen. Kenneth McKenzie said the three nations had deployed 105 weapons against Syrian targets and all the Western nations' aircraft safely returned to their bases at the end of the strike mission.
He said the missiles used by the Western nations were delivered from British, French and U.S. air and naval platforms in the Red Sea, the Northern Arabian Gulf and the Eastern Mediterranean.
The Syrian Foreign Ministry has condemned the U.S.-led attack, saying it violated the international law and the UN Charter, Syrian state news agency SANA reported on Saturday.
The ministry said the missile attack, carried out before daybreak Saturday and targeting research facilities in the Syrian capital Damascus as well as a military base in the central Homs province, "shows again these countries' disrespect for international legitimacy."
Speaking of Russia and Syria, McKenzie said none of the West's aircraft or missiles involved in this operation were "successfully engaged" by Syrian air defenses, and there was no indication that Russian air-defense systems were employed.
"We have not seen any military response from actors within Syria. And we remain postured to protect our forces and those of the coalition should anything occur," McKenzie.
McKenzie noted that the strikes were double the size of the last U.S. strike on Syria in April 2017, and as of now the U.S. side has not been aware of any civilian casualties.
When asked about the reason for rushing to the military operation before the Organization For the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons reports any evidence of Syria's responsibility for the alleged chemical attack, White said the United States is "still assessing and getting details."
"There's various intel, and I won't speak to that," she said. "We were very confident about the evidence that we had ... And that's why we moved forward."
Meanwhile, McKenzie admitted that "there's some left" for Syrian chemical weapons after the attack.
"I would say there's still a residual element of Syrian program that's out there. I believe that we took the heart of it out with the attacks that we accomplished last night," he said.
The alleged use of chemical weapons in Douma, strongly denied by Syria, has not been independently investigated and verified. An emergency UN Security Council meeting, convened on Saturday at Russian request following the U.S.-led attack, failed to vote for a resolution condemning the raids.