The Pentagon said missile strikes on Syria have hampered Bashar al-Assad’s ability to use chemical weapons again, without encountering serious resistance from the Syrian military or its Russian allies.
President Donald Trump summed up that achievement in two words: “Mission accomplished.”
The tweet was an echo of predecessor George W. Bush, who, speaking on an aircraft carrier in front of a banner with those words displayed, prematurely pronounced an end to America’s combat operations in Iraq two months after the 2003 invasion — a claim that proved premature, and that shadowed his presidency. The US military didn’t leave Iraq for several more years, and it’s back there now.
And the limited nature of the strikes by the US, UK and France means they probably won’t have an immediate impact on the balance of power in Syria’s years-long civil war. The conflict, which has killed about half a million people, is increasingly drawing in regional and world powers — and threatening to escalate.
America’s involvement may not be over, said Trump’s ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley. She said the US is “locked and loaded,” and ready to punish Syria again if it keeps using chemical weapons.
Vice President Mike Pence, at the Summit of the Americas in Lima, said the move had been “morally right,” and that the US is prepared to “sustain” its efforts against the use of chemical weapons. Trump and top aides, in consultation with leaders of France and the UK, had become concerned that not responding to this month’s attack on Douma, which came on the heels of a nerve agent poisoning in England of a former Russian spy in March, may normalise the proliferation of chemical weapons around the world, said two administration officials who asked not to be identified.
Syria and its backers called the attack a violation of international law, and the UN Security Council held an emergency meeting at Russia’s request at which it rejected Moscow’s resolution to condemn the strikes.
Russia: US will want dialogue
MOSCOW / Reuters
The United States will want to maintain a dialogue with Russia about strategic stability following Western missile strikes on Syria, Russian news agencies cited a Russian Foreign Ministry official as saying on Sunday.
“There is every reason to believe that after the US strikes on Syria, the Americans will be eager to move to a strategic dialogue,” Interfax news agency quoted Vladimir Ermakov, head of the foreign ministry’s department for non-proliferation and arms control, as saying. “You cannot say the Americans … do not demonstrate a desire to lead a strategic dialogue,” he said. “In the US administration there are specific people who it is possible to talk with.”