Pentagon officials on Saturday claimed that U.S. and western airstrikes on Syria the previous night "successfully hit every target" as President Trump declared "mission accomplished" in retaliating over the apparent use of chemical weapons in Syria.
“Last night’s operations were successful. We met all of our objectives, we hit all of our targets successfully. No allied aircrafts were engaged. It was a successful mission,” Defense Department chief spokeswoman Dana White told reporters at the Pentagon.
President Trump, Theresa May and President Macron have confirmed that overnight American, British and French forces targeted sites associated with the Syrian government's chemical weapons program.
The United States joined French and British forces on Friday night in launching 105 missiles from numerous air and naval locations at three different targets in Syria, including facilities near the capital of Damascus as well as in Homs in northern Syria.
Early Saturday morning, the U.S., France and the U.K. launched more than 100 missiles targeting three chemical weapons sites in Syria. In a press briefing at the Pentagon Saturday, Marine Lt. Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr. confirmed the three distinct targets — a research facility, a weapons depot and a command center.
Images from the satellite imagery company DigitalGlobe now appear to show at least two of these three sites — the Barzeh Research and Development Center and the Him Shinshar chemical weapons storage complex — before and after the strikes.
Russian President Vladimir Putin says a demilitarized zone to separate Syrian forces and rebels in the Idlib region will be established by Oct. 15.
Putin made the announcement Monday after meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. He said the zone will be patrolled both by Turkish forces and Russian military police.
Idlib is the last bastion of Syria’s rebels and concern has been high that a government assault on the city and its surroundings would be catastrophic for civilians. Turkey has opposed such an assault.
Putin said that the zone would be 15-20 kilometers (9-12 miles deep).
The U.S. is preparing to withdraw a significant number of troops from Syria, according to two senior defense officials and one person familiar with the plan.
The two senior defense officials said the White House would announce the move as early as Wednesday.
President Donald Trump, who has threatened in the past to pull out of Syria, did not declare a withdrawal on Wednesday but wrote on Twitter: "We have defeated ISIS in Syria, my only reason for being there during the Trump Presidency."
Trump's plans to draw down U.S. troops in Syria appeared to take lawmakers and some senior administration officials by surprise, and the idea of a complete withdrawal swiftly met resistance in Congress.
"An American withdrawal at this time would be a big win for ISIS, Iran, Bashar al Assad of Syria, and Russia," Sen. Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican, said in a statement. "I fear it will lead to devastating consequences for our nation, the region, and throughout the world."
Graham called any plan for withdrawal in Syria "an Obama-like mistake" — a reference to President Barack Obama's decision to completely withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq in 2011, only to redeploy American forces there several years later to combat ISIS.