Pentagon: Syria strikes put chemical weapons program back years

Pentagon: Syria strikes put chemical weapons program back years
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The Pentagon said Saturday that the attack the U.S. carried out against Syria’s chemical weapons facilities on Friday will set back the country’s chemical weapons program for years, touting its success but noting it's still possible the Syrian government could launch more attacks.

“In a powerful show of allied unity, we deployed 105 weapons against three targets that will significantly impact the Syrian regime’s ability to develop, deploy and use chemical weapons in the future,” Gen. Kenneth McKenzie said on Saturday during a press briefing at the Pentagon about the strikes carried out on Friday.

The U.S., U.K. and France launched missiles at a research and development center, a chemical weapons storage site and a chemical weapons bunker.

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“This is going to set the Syrian chemical weapons program back for years," McKenzie said about the attack on the research and development center.

“I'm not going to say that they're going to be unable to conduct a chemical attack in the future,” McKenzie said. But, he noted, the Syrian government will think about it “long and hard” in the future.

The missiles were launched from air and naval platforms belonging to all three nations in the Red Sea, the Northern Arabian Gulf and the Eastern Mediterranean. All the missiles hit their targets around 4 a.m. local time, McKenzie said.

“None of our aircraft or missiles involved in this operation were successfully engaged by Syrian air defenses and we have no indication that Russian air defense systems were employed,” McKenzie said.

“We are confident that all of our missiles reached their targets,” McKenzie added. “At the end of the strike mission, all our aircraft safely returned to their bases,”

McKenzie said that the Pentagon assessed that over 40 surface-to-air missiles were employed by the Syrian government.

The strike was twice the size of a previous strike carried out by the Trump administration in April 2017 and, McKenzie noted, there has so far not been a response from military actors within Syria.