Washington: US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis on Saturday asked all civilized nations to urgently unite to end the Syrian issue after the US had already carried out a series of airstrikes in Syria against the Damascus government.
He said this mission was tailored to minimize civil and foreign casualties in Syria and were only designed to send a clear message to Bashar government to stop his chemical weapons programme in Syria, PTI reported.
“The authoritarian Assad regime did not get the message last year as it was hit by American missiles after it carried out chemical weapons attack against its own people,” Mattis said referring to the recent chemical weapon attack that killed 75 people last Saturday.
“But it is time for all civilized nations to urgently unite in ending the Syrian civil war by supporting the United Nations backed Geneva peace process,” he said.
While US Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Jon Dunford said the series of airstrikes were specifically associated with the Syrian chemical weapons regime and that it only targeted military facilities that stored or tested chemical weapon.
The first target was a scientific research center located in the Greater Damascus area said the Dunford while the second target was a chemical weapon storage base.
“This military facility was a Syrian Center for the research development, production and testing of chemical and biological warfare technology.”
“We assessed that this was the primary location of Syrian sarin and precursor production equipment. The third target, which was in the vicinity of the second target, contains both the chemical weapons equipment storage facility and an important command post,” he said.
Dunford recalled last year’s unilateral strike carried out by the US and said the airstrikes this year were qualitatively and quantitatively different from last year’s mission.
He said in April 2017 the unilateral strike in Syria was focused on aircraft associated with the Syrian chemical weapons attack, while this year it is was the weapons storage facilities and research centres.
“This evening, we conducted strikes with two allies on multiple sites that will result in a long-term degradation of Syrians capability to research, develop and employee, chemical and biological weapons. Important infrastructure was destroyed which will result in a setback for the Syrian regime,” he added.
“They will lose years of research and development data, specialized equipment, and expensive chemical weapons precursors. The strike was not only a strong message to the regime that their actions were inexcusable, but it also inflicted maximum damage without unnecessary risk to innocent civilians,” Dunford stated.
Responding to questions, Mattis said this airstrike was a very strong message for Bashar al-Assad and that “right now this is a one-time shot”.
He added that Russia was not pre-notified by the US. “The only communications that took place specifically (with Russians) with this operation before the targets were struck was the normal deconfliction of the airspace, the procedures that are in place for all of our operations in Syria.”
While US Vice President Mike Pence, who travelled to Peru to attend the ongoing Summit of the Americas, had abruptly left its opening ceremony to notify the Congressional leadership of the air strikes in Syria.