Donald Trump claims 'mission accomplished' after US-led air strikes on Syria

'A perfectly executed strike last night'

Andrew Buncombe
New York
Saturday 14 April 2018 09:31
Donald Trump addresses the nation following military strikes in Syria

Donald Trump has claimed “mission accomplished” over the raids on Syria - echoing the ill-fated words of George W Bush fifteen years earlier when he spoke about Iraq.

Speaking hours after US, UK and French forces hit three targets in Syria they said were associated with the production, storage and use of chemical weapons, Mr Trump thanked the three militaries for their involvement.

“A perfectly executed strike last night,” he said on Twitter.

“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!”

The comments echoed those made by Mr Bush in May 2001 when it seemed US and UK forces were making swift process in taking control of Iraq, having ousted its dictator Saddam Hussein.

As it was, Mr Bush’s words on the deck of the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln presaged no such thing. The US and coalition forces quickly found themselves facing a bloody militancy and in the middle of a bitter civil war, involving various factions unleashed by the toppling of Saddam.

Syrian president Bashar Al-Assad releases footage of him walking into work hours after air strike

By the time the bulk of US forces left Iraq in December 2011, thousands of American and British troops had lost their lives and perhaps more than one million Iraqis had been killed.

During the 2016 election campaign, Mr Trump had attacked Barack Obama for what he said was a hasty decision to take the US forces out of Iraq, something that helped create a vacuum that Isis was able to seize and dominate.

At the same time, Mr Trump’s instincts appear to be to keep US ground troops out of the Middle East. Earlier this month, he claimed that the 2,000 or so US troops deployed in Syria would be brought home very soon.

Reuters said the bombing represented a major escalation in the West's confrontation with Bashar al-Assad’s superpower ally Russia, but is unlikely to alter the course of a multi-sided war which has killed at least half-a-million people in the past seven years.

That in turn raises the question of where Western countries go from here, after a volley of strikes denounced by Damascus and Moscow as at once both reckless and pointless.

By morning, the Western countries said their bombing was over for now. Syria released video of the wreckage of a bombed-out research lab, but also of Mr Assad arriving at work as usual, with the caption “morning of resilience”.

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