by Pete Kasperowicz · April 14, 2018
The Defense Department said Friday night that U.S., British and French forces struck three Syrian facilities that officials believe play a key role in Syria’s ability to research, produce and store chemical weapons.
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford said the Friday night strike was much broader than the attack Trump ordered last year, which only targeted one facility. They said hitting multiple sites should mean the “long-term degradation” of Syria’s chemical weapons capabilities.
“Tonight, France, the United Kingdom and the United States took decisive action to strike the Syrian chemical weapons infrastructure,” Mattis told reporters at the Pentagon.
Mattis said it’s in the “vital national interest” to eliminate Syria’s capacity to carry out attacks like the apparent chlorine gas attack on civilians from last Saturday that led to shock and anger around the world.
“We and our allies find these atrocities inexcusable,” Mattis said.
Mattis also noted that the U.S. bombed Syria last year for a similar reason, but said Syria didn’t learn the lesson from that response.
“Clearly, the Syrian regime did not get the message last year,” he said. “This time our allies and we have struck harder. Together we have sent a clear message to Assad and his murderous lieutenants that they should not perpetrate another chemical weapons attack for which they will be held accountable.”
Dunford said the allied mission was to destroy key targets that, once destroyed, should severely hurt Syria’s ability to carry out further attacks.
“The targets that were struck and destroyed were associated with the regime’s chemical weapons program,” Dunford said. “They will lose years of research and development data.”
Specifically, Dunford said the first target was a facility that served as a scientific research center, military facility and R&D center that focused on chemical and biological warfare. The second target was a chemical storage facility that the U.S. believes was a primary storage location for sarin gas.
The third target, he said, was a chemical weapons and command post facility.
Both officials stressed that allied forces took care to avoid civilian areas of the country.
The officials also said the attacks were over by the time they briefed the press.
“This wave of airstrikes is over and that is why we’re out here speaking to you now,” he said.
Washington Examiner · by Pete Kasperowicz · April 14, 2018