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The strikes "will significantly impact the Syrian regime's ability to develop, deploy and use chemical weapons in the future", said Lieutenant General Kenneth McKenzie, director of the United States military's Joint Staff, though he noted a "residual" element remained.

When asked about Trump's withdrawal statement, the Pentagon chose to refer to the White House, while the State Department's Heather Nauert said she was "not aware of" the decision, declining to comment further.

The inspectors from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons will try to determine whether chemical weapons had been used in the Douma attack.

Separately, a senior US official said top Pentagon brass have argued that quick military action may have unintended consequences, including with Russian Federation. He accused the allies of violating the UN Charter and worldwide law. But there was a clear warning that if the Assad regime resorts to chemical weapons again, then further strikes may well follow.

The overnight operation was the culmination of a week of frenetic planning at the Pentagon, with officials weighing the risks of various targets as President Donald Trump sent out mixed messages on what he wanted to do. Damascus has denied using chemical weapons. "He is in Damascus, he is working", stated Sablin. "It is to drive this to a UN-brokered peace but, at the same time, keep our foot on the neck of ISIS until we suffocate it".

Ari Fleischer, Bush's White House press secretary, retweeted Trump's tweet Saturday, adding, "Um.I would have recommended ending this tweet with not those two words". "We'll be coming out of Syria very soon".

Later Thursday he was noncommittal. In turn, Russian Federation stated that it convenes an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council.

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French President Emmanuel Macron said in a statement that a target of the strike was the Syrian government's "clandestine chemical arsenal".

The Russian Defense Ministry claimed earlier on April 14 that Syrian forces, using Soviet-made air-defense systems, demonstrated the "high effectiveness" of weapons in their possession and the "excellent training of Syrian military personnel prepared by our specialists".

A Syrian military statement said in all, 110 missiles were fired by the U.S., Britain and France and that a lot of them were shot down or derailed.

"The immediate priority is to avert the danger of war", he told reporters on Thursday.

In a statement on Saturday, he reiterated the Russian view that an alleged chemical weapons attack in Douma that killed dozens of civilians was fake: "Russian military experts, having visited the place of the alleged incident, did not find any traces of the use of chlorine or other poisonous substances". They stated that Assad with his family has fled to Iran, leaving his country behind.

Inspectors from the OPCW chemical watchdog will begin their investigation Sunday at the site of a chemical attack near Damascus, a senior official said. -Russian relations are at a low point.


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