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Top US general on Syria assault: 'This wave of air strikes is over'

  • The United States, Britain, and France pounded Syria in a coordinated air strike in response to a chemical weapons attack that killed approximately 60 people last week.
  • Secretary of Defense James Mattis called the strikes a "one time shot" and said that they were aimed at Syrian government's chemical weapons infrastructure.
  • Nor Mattis or Dunford addressed possible Russian or Syrian retaliation to the U.S.-led strikes.
U.S. Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, answers questions during a press conference at the Pentagon.
Department of Defense photo
U.S. Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, answers questions during a press conference at the Pentagon.

The United States, Britain, and France pounded Syria in a coordinated air strike in response to a chemical weapons attack that killed approximately 60 people last week. The U.S.-led coalition is being dubbed the biggest intervention by Western powers in Syria's civil war.

Secretary of Defense James Mattis called the strikes a "one time shot" and said that they were aimed at Syrian government's chemical weapons infrastructure. "Right now we have no additional attacks planned," Mattis said Friday evening from the Pentagon.

Speaking alongside Mattis, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford named three targets that were struck in the military operation which began at 9 p.m. EST time.

The first target was the Syrian Scientific Studies and Research Center, a government body responsible for research and development of advanced weapons systems.

"The second target was a chemical weapons storage facility west of Homs, we access that this was the primary location of Syrian sarin and precursor production equipment," Dunford said.

The last target was a chemical weapons storage facility as well as a military command post.

And while Dunford would not describe the military assets that were deployed, he added that, "this wave of air strikes is over."

"Clearly, the Assad regime did not get the message last year," Mattis said.

"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."

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis briefs members of the media on Syria at the Pentagon April 13, 2018 in Arlington, Virginia. President Donald Trump has ordered a joint force strike on Syria with Britain and France over the recent suspected chemical attack by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Getty Images
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis briefs members of the media on Syria at the Pentagon April 13, 2018 in Arlington, Virginia. President Donald Trump has ordered a joint force strike on Syria with Britain and France over the recent suspected chemical attack by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Nor Mattis or Dunford addressed possible Russian or Syrian retaliation to the U.S.-led strikes.

Meanwhile, the Russian Ambassador to the United States Anatoly Antonov issued a statement via Twitter.

"A pre-designed scenario is being implemented. Again, we are being threatened. We warned that such actions will not be left without consequences. All responsibility for them rests with Washington, London and Paris."

The strikes came on the heels of an alleged chemical weapons attack believed to be carried out by forces aligned with the Assad regime in Douma, a town that was held by Syrian rebels.

The Assad regime has denied responsibility for the April 7 attack and has since repositioned a significant amount of air assets to Russian-controlled airfields in hopes that Washington would be reluctant to strike there.

"I am confident the Syrian regime conducted a chemical attack on innocent people in this last week," Mattis said noting that the U.S. government had enough intelligence to carry out the strike.

Last year, the Trump administration lobbed a total of 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles from the Navy destroyers USS Porter and USS Ross in the eastern Mediterranean.

The missiles hit aircraft hangars, ammunition bunkers, air defense systems and radar. Additionally, the Pentagon said Russian forces in Syria were formally notified before the strike, but Moscow was not involved in the military operation.