Wednesday, April 25th, 2018
  
 

Syria air strikes: Trump defends claiming ‘mission accomplished’

Syria air strikes: Trump defends claiming ‘mission accomplished’

  • 15 April 2018
Related Topics

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionWatch the key moments over 12 hours – in two minutes

President Donald Trump has defended the use of the term “mission accomplished” amid criticism following US, UK and French strikes on targets in Syria.

He accused the “fake news media” of seizing on the term to demean the strikes, carried out in response to an alleged Syrian chemical weapons attack.

Ex-President George W Bush was widely ridiculed after appearing in front of a banner with the term in the Iraq war.

Russia and Syria insist no chemical attack took place on 7 April.

They have said the attack in Douma, in the Eastern Ghouta area near the capital, Damascus, was staged.


Catch up on the strikes:


Inspectors from the independent Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) are now in Damascus. They have met Syrian officials and are expected to visit Douma soon.

Why is ‘mission accomplished’ controversial?

Mr Trump used the term to conclude a tweet on Saturday morning following the overnight attacks, after hailing the strikes as “perfectly executed” and thanking the UK and France.

Skip Twitter post by @realDonaldTrump

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

End of Twitter post by @realDonaldTrump

President Bush’s former press secretary Ari Fleischer was one of those who said it was not to be advised.

Skip Twitter post by @AriFleischer

Um…I would have recommended ending this tweet with not those two words. https://t.co/h5Fl7kjea6

— Ari Fleischer (@AriFleischer) April 14, 2018

End of Twitter post by @AriFleischer

But Mr Trump fought back on Sunday, saying he knew the “fake news media” would seize on it but used it anyway as it is a “great military term”.

Skip Twitter post 2 by @realDonaldTrump

The Syrian raid was so perfectly carried out, with such precision, that the only way the Fake News Media could demean was by my use of the term “Mission Accomplished.” I knew they would seize on this but felt it is such a great Military term, it should be brought back. Use often!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 15, 2018

End of Twitter post 2 by @realDonaldTrump

The phrase had been on a banner as Mr Bush declared the end of “major combat operations” in Iraq in May 2003, six weeks after the US-led invasion of the country.

The following Iraqi insurgency, which dragged on for years, led to widespread ridicule of the term.

Image copyright
AFP

Image caption

George W Bush with the banner on the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln in May 2003

Image copyright
Getty Images

Image caption

A replica banner mocks Mr Bush at the White House in 2007

Ex-assistant secretary of state PJ Crowley, writing for the BBC, said the use at that time “represented a serious misreading of the challenge”, adding: “But Syria isn’t Iraq. It’s actually much more complicated.”

What is happening in Douma?

The OPCW inspectors met Syria’s Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad and Russian officials for about three hours in Damascus on Sunday and are expected to begin work in Douma later.

The Syrian army announced on Saturday that Douma’s Eastern Ghouta region had been cleared of the last rebel fighters and was fully retaken.

The inspectors will investigate the site of the alleged chemical attack, which the Western allies believe killed dozens with the use of chlorine gas and possibly Sarin.

The Russians say there is no trace of any chemicals and questioned why the allies carried out strikes before the inspectors had reported. Russia says the attack in Douma was staged, accusing the UK of orchestrating it.

The OPCW will not seek to establish – and publicly announce – who was responsible for the attack.

The UK, US and France have said the Syrian government was responsible.

Will there be more Western attacks?

Mr Trump said on Saturday that the US was still “locked and loaded” should any more chemical weapons attacks happen.

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionSyria air strikes: Do they work?

The wave of strikes had represented the most significant attack against President Bashar al-Assad’s government by Western powers in seven years of Syria’s civil war.

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said on Sunday no further strikes were planned but that this would be reassessed if more chemical attacks took place.

He told the BBC the strikes in Syria were meant to signal that “enough is enough” and their “primary purpose is to say no to the use of barbaric chemical weapons”.

He said of the strikes: “This is not about regime change. This is not about trying to turn the tide of the conflict in Syria.”

What is happening diplomatically?

Russia failed to win a vote in the UN Security Council on Saturday condemning the “aggression” of the US-led strikes on Syria. Only China and Bolivia voted with Russia.

The vote followed bitter exchanges, with Russia accusing the allies of “cynical disdain” and the US saying that Russia had trashed diplomatic moves on chemical weapons.

The US, UK and France then circulated a new draft resolution to Security Council members, calling for an independent investigation into Syria’s alleged use of chemical weapons.

Similar previous plans have been vetoed by Russia.

Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke to Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani by phone on Sunday, telling him that any new Western strikes on Syria would spark “international chaos”.


The future of the Syrian war:


What was targeted by the US, UK and France?

Three sites. Firstly, the Barzeh complex, which the US says is a centre for development, production and testing of chemical and biological weapons, although Syria denies this.


The other two were suspected chemical weapons facilities at Him Shinshar near Homs.

Image copyright
AFP

Image caption

The Barzeh complex appears completely destroyed


The US said 105 weapons were launched and it believed none were intercepted by Syrian defences. It said Syria’s chemical weapons programme had been set back years.

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionGen Kenneth McKenzie: “We deployed 105 weapons”

The Russians said 71 missiles were shot down by Syrian systems.

Both the Russians and the US said there were no reported casualties. Syria says three people were hurt near Homs.