Donald Trump echoes George W. Bush with Syria strike 'Mission Accomplished'

US President Donald Trump announced the military action in Syria, but French and British warplanes played a key role in the strikes early on Saturday.
Trump arrives to address the nation on the situation in Syria.
Trump arrives to address the nation on the situation in Syria.PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON (BLOOMBERG) - President Donald Trump declared "Mission Accomplished!" hours after joint strikes on Syria by the US and key allies, inviting immediate comparisons to President George W. Bush's early, misplaced optimism about the US invasion of Iraq in 2003.

"A perfectly executed strike last night," Trump said in a Twitter message. "Thank you to France and the United Kingdom for their wisdom and the power of their fine military. Could not have had a better result. Mission accomplished!"

The US, Britain and France sought to shore up international support on Saturday after overnight strikes on Bashar al-Assad's regime as punishment for an apparent chemical weapons attack, and as deterrence against future attacks.

The Syrian government is believed to have been responsible for dropping a barrel bomb with chemical agents on a civilian population near Damascus a week ago.

The coordinated missile attack by allied forces hit suspected weapons sites in an operation Trump said was intended to deter Assad from using chemical arms in future.

The Pentagon said three primary targets, including a research centre and weapons storage site, were hit.

The words "Mission Accomplished" were famously displayed on a banner behind President Bush in an address from the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln in May 2003, in which he prematurely declared the end to major combat operations in Iraq.

Ari Fleischer, Bush's press secretary at the time of the speech, said on Twitter that "Um... I would have recommended ending this tweet with not those two words."

"In his remarks, Bush stated the danger was not over and that difficult missions lay ahead, particularly in the Sunni triangle," Fleischer, now a media consultant, said in a followup tweet.

"The nuance of his remarks, however, couldn't compete with the message of this banner."