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Trump says ‘Mission Accomplished!’ after Syria missile strike

President Trump proclaimed victory in no uncertain terms on Saturday following a one-off bombardment in Syria that experts cast as a saber-rattling exercise in futility.

The overnight assault of cruise missiles was the biggest intervention by Western countries in a bloody seven-year civil war that has sparked a humanitarian crisis and sent millions of refugees fleeing for safety.

The strikes against President Bashar Assad’s regime were limited to chemical weapons facilities and not aimed at toppling the leader.

“Mission accomplished,” Trump tweeted on Saturday, oddly echoing former President George W. Bush’s cringe-worthy premature use of the phrase in 2003 after the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Bush was widely ridiculed for using the slogan after fighting dragged on for years.

Trump orders U.S. missile strikes on Syria after chemical attack

The air strikes were meant to punish Assad for a suspected chemical attack that killed dozens of civilians last week and to deter him from doing it again.

Defense officials echoed Trump’s glowing assessment.

The 4 a.m. assault, carried out by a coalition of American, British and French forces, “successfully hit every target,” according to Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White.

“We met our objectives. We hit the sites, the heart of the chem-weapons program,” she added. “So it was mission accomplished.”

Nikki Haley says U.S. is prepared to strike Syria again

Warplanes, ships and submarines fired a total of 105 cruise missiles on three targets, including chemical weapons facilities near the Syrian capital of Damascus, officials said.

No deaths were reported.

The Trump administration dialed up the cowboy rhetoric Saturday, keeping geopolitical tension high.

ALTERNATIVE CROP OF 104

Damascus skies erupt with surface to air missile fire as the U.S. launches an attack on Syria targeting different parts of the Syrian capital Damascus, Syria, early Saturday, April 14, 2018. 

(Hassan Ammar/AP)

UN Ambassador Nikki Haley told her counterparts that allied forces remain “locked and loaded.”

Trump’s order to strike Syria may end future chemical attacks

Haley went on to accuse Russia, the Syrian government’s key ally in its fight against rebel forces, of covering up the chemical attack for the Assad government.

“When our President draws a red line, our President enforces the red,” she said. “The United States of America will not allow the Assad regime to continue using chemical weapons.”

The Russian ambassador to the UN, Vassily Nebenzia, meanwhile, said Washington had embarked on an “illegal military venture.”

“Russia condemns in the strongest possible terms the attack against Syria where Russian military personnel are assisting the legitimate country and their counterterrorism efforts,” Nebenzia said, reading a statement from Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Trump administration striking Syria breaks international law

The UN Security Council met to debate the strikes, but rejected a Russian resolution calling for condemnation of the “aggression” by the three Western allies.

The White House said Trump spoke with British Prime Minister Theresa May and French President Emmanuel Macron on Saturday, and the trio agreed the bombings “were successful and necessary to deter” the future use of chemical weapons.

Photographs released by the Pentagon Saturday showed three large buildings that appeared to have been flattened by the air strikes.

On Saturday, Syria released video of the wreckage of a bombed-out research lab — along with clips of Assad arriving at work as usual, with the caption “Morning of resilience.”

Syrian state TV claimed that three civilians were wounded after “several” missiles were intercepted by Syrian air-defense systems. Government forces also entered Douma, the site of the purported poison gas attack, and expelled rebel fighters from the town.

President Trump arrives to announce military strikes on Syria as new national security adviser John Bolton follows behind at the White House.

President Trump arrives to announce military strikes on Syria as new national security adviser John Bolton follows behind at the White House.

(YURI GRIPAS/REUTERS)

Hundreds of Assad supporters took to the streets of Damascus to denounce the bombings.

“We are not scared of America’s missiles. We humiliated their missiles,” said Mahmoud Ibrahim, who waved a Syrian flag as he hung out of his car window.

Lt. Marine Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, director of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that none of the aircraft or missiles involved in this operation were successfully engaged by Syrian air defenses, and there is no indication that Russia air defense systems were employed.

Syrian forces fired 40 interceptor missiles in an attempt to combat the barrage from the allied forces, but most were launched after the last incoming missile had already struck its target.

It was unclear where the ineffective Syrian missiles landed, McKenzie said.

“When you shoot a lot of iron in the air, it’s going to come down somewhere,” he added.

The allied attack used nearly double the amount of firepower of a unilateral U.S. air strike Trump ordered last April.

For all the firepower, humanitarians wondered how this operation would deter Assad when last year’s “pinprick” attack did not.

“I want to be hopeful, but I’m not sure I can be,” Shadi Martini, director of humanitarian relief at the Multifaith Alliance for Syrian Refugees, told the Daily News. “We saw the same attacks last year and here we are again. At the same time, all we have is hope that this time is different.”

Martini and others said the U.S. must take a leading role in efforts to end the conflict in Syria diplomatically.

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford (r.) brief members of the media on Syria.

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford (r.) brief members of the media on Syria.

(Alex Wong/Getty Images)

“We need a clear strategy from the western powers,” he said. “We have to try to force the other side to come to the table and find a political solution that will allow Syrians to feel safe in their own country.”

But gauging Trump’s sincerity about Assad’s brutality or chemical weapons abuses is difficult when the U.S. has reduced the number of Syrian refugees it allows into the country.

So far this year, the U.S. has only resettled 11 Syrian refugees.

In 2016, the U.S. resettled 15,479, according to State Department figures.

Over 5.4 million people have fled Syria since 2011, according to the UN refugee agency.

The suspected chemical weapons attacks, coupled with the refugee crisis and the international fight against terror groups like ISIS operating in parts of the country, has turned the Syrian war into a global conflict involving two of the largest superpowers.

The Pentagon said it gave no explicit warning to the Kremlin ahead of the attack, but the U.S. ambassador in Moscow, John Huntsman, said in a video, “Before we took action, the United States communicated with” Russia to “reduce the danger of any Russian or civilian casualties.”

Days earlier Trump told Russia to “get ready” as he weighed a military strike.

A senior official in a regional alliance that backs Damascus told Reuters the targeted sites had been evacuated days ago thanks to a warning from Russia.

Anatoly Antonov, the Russian ambassador to Washington, reiterated Saturday that “such actions will not be left without consequences.”

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