US to hit Russia with new sanctions over Syria

by

April 16, 2018
In this Saturday, April 14, 2018 file photo, a Syrian soldier films the damage of the Syrian Scientific Research Center which was attacked by U.S., British and French military strikes to punish President Bashar Assad for suspected chemical attack against civilians, in Barzeh, near Damascus, Syria. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)

President Donald Trump yesterday defended his use of the phrase 'mission accomplished' to describe a United States-led missile attack on Syria's chemical weapons programme, even as his aides stressed continuing US troop involvement and plans for new economic sanctions against Russia for enabling the government of Bashar Assad.

Stepping up the pressure on Syria's president, US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley indicated the sanctions to be announced today would be aimed at sending a message to Russia, which she said has blocked six attempts by the UN Security Council to make it easier to investigate the use of chemical weapons.

"Everyone is going to feel it at this point," Haley said, warning of consequences for Assad's foreign allies.

"The international community will not allow chemical weapons to come back into our everyday life," she said. "The fact he was making this more normal and that Russia was covering this up, all that has got to stop."

In an early-morning tweet, Trump said the strike was "perfectly carried out" and that "the only way the Fake News Media could demean was by my use of the term 'Mission Accomplished'. He added that he knew the media would "seize" on the phrase, but said it should be used often.

"It is such a great military term, it should be brought back," he wrote.

Trump tweeted "Mission Accomplished" on Saturday after US, French and British warplanes and ships launched more than 100 missiles nearly unopposed by Syrian air defences. While he declared success, the Pentagon said the pummelling of three chemical-related facilities left enough others intact to enable the Assad government to use banned weapons against civilians if it chooses.

His choice of words recalled a similar claim associated with President George W. Bush following the US-led invasion of Iraq. Bush addressed sailors aboard a Navy ship in May 2003 alongside a 'Mission Accomplished' banner, just weeks before it became apparent that Iraqis had organised an insurgency that would tie down US forces for years.