Pentagon officials remark on strikes in Syria

"We have gone to great lengths to avoid civilian and foreign casualties tonight," Defense Secretary James Mattis said.
13:52 | 04/14/18

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Transcript for Pentagon officials remark on strikes in Syria
Beirut. It's 5:30 in Mo here in the middle St. Shortlyfter 10:00 P.M. Eastern we cam on the air with this special report. 9:00 P.M. Eastern ie united States the president addressing the country. What you're look at now is some of th anti-aircraft fire this is over Damascus tonight shortly after the air strikes began I Syria. This joint effort with Britain andfrance. Our strong lies. I want to bring in retired Colo stevenganyard. Steve, stucksough the images, the anti-aircraft images. We heard from secretary mass -- Mattis a short ag David, let me P these pictures respective. We say cruiseles, they fly veryow line an airplane, Abo a hundred feet off the ground. E pictures you're seeing here are P firing wildly in the air.yosee them goingay up in the air. They'r not shooting at anything. It's a show of effort. This has nothing to doh the MI Iles. The Syrians had no cnce to knock down Downey oe missiles. His is a statement by the ambassador these strikes saying a pre design scenario is being emented. We're bei attacked. W they threatened eer this week T retaliate to bring do these missiles. We haven't seen evidencef that yet. We haven't and there were back cel communications Ben the U.S. And the Russian trying to rest any possibilityf Russian casualties. All their ships left and all their aanes flew away. I think the Russians should be happy W what the saw tonight they could have had the portunity to Dow one of these missiles. They have two sopic suace to airsile systems in the north proteg their air base and their port the. So they could have brought down technically some of these missiles. Whatnk happened is the Russians turned off theiradar and turneff their missile ems. Thers a gentleman's agreement that weon't go after you if you let us hit Assad takeut his chemical weapon facilities. You the Gener say W went to great lengths to avoid casuals. We thought he was aiming that at the Russians who were warned. Colonel,ck with us . We want to listen to secretary Mattis. The worldno theyrn people have suffe under the Assad regime. On April 7th the regime decided to showlus disregard for inteio law by using chemical weapons murder children and other innocent find this in excusable. Ur command and chiefhe president the authority to use militaryorce oveeas to defend important uniteates nationalinterests. Useav vital interests I averting a catophe in Syria and the of chemicalons. Last year in response T a emicalwe's attack against civilians and to the regime to cease chemicaleapons use we ted T military base. Earlieroday president tru directed the U.S. Mility to conduct operations with O allies T destroy T Syrian and launching ca cities. Tonight the united Ates and France andin led the attaclearly Assad didn't get the message last . This time W struck er. Wet usage toad that should not perat another ccal weapons att R which they will be held possible. We remind committed to defeating isn sy this strike demtes national resolve to prevent emical weapons fromeing use on ae in any circumstance. I to emphasize these strikes referenced at the Syrian regime. We have gon to great length to avoid civilian andei casualties. It's time for all civilized nations to urgentlyn ending the Syrian civilar by supporting the united nas. In accore with the chemical weapons convention we urge onsible nation condemn Thad re join USO prevent chemical weapons from being usedagain. Defense secretary Mattis at the Pentagon. It to bring in colonel gaard to give pe a bigger pictf what happed from the air and the sea. Can you talk ushr these precn strikes and how they were able toomplish this, the U.S. W hel from brita and France. Ea, this had to be re choreographed. You had three countries involved three if N four difftf weapon ems. They ally a low altitudend had to hitheirts in a feminutes. It was comple they did a great job. As far as we know there were no U.S. Ser personnel lives in danger. Never got closeno to the Russi missile systems or the syriaissile systems. These were just chemical wn Ty target we H earlier in the we there might have been a debate within the whiouseome people wanting T hit infrastructure and weaken the assadregime. Ere were others whoai no. We only going after chemicals.we know French andtish said no onl signing up for chel weapon in the end the much smaller targets that didn't go after Assad, all it did is shout the samesagerom a year ago. It's not a new message. That's an ITI point colonel. Ast 24 hours reporting omei was images of Assad along with the Iranians meeting in syr smiles on their faces after the chemical Atta. You've have toonder if Syrians thoughtwas a small pric pay the head W Assad Hase in recent months. One of the sadngs is after chemical attack occurred ISIS pulled out of th O douma. D continuo get stronger.what we did tonight is not going to have any of impact in the long term playing out of the drama I Syria and unfortunately I don't think it's Goin to be the lt time thativilians will be attack chemical weapons inria. Let me ask you about the risk Tony civilians on theround Syria. You mentioned three specific chemical weapons capabilies targets, the facilities oe ground they were sfically targeted. Was there a risk that civilians could be H or injure David, remember a Y ago part of the compromise we had with the Russian is T would supe the gas out of sy the attack in douma wase by chlorine gas. N find chlorine are it's not illegal. It's not like sarin that requires special ling. Do we preventom as common chle being used againstivilians if T's no VI ngs to take T pictures?there's nothing to say it won't happen again. Colonel stay with us I want toet back toartha Raddatz. It was a yea ago Martha you and I were on the air talking about another precision air strike. Withins we saw Syrian aircraft taking off fm that strip again. T going to be concern beca of th nature of these gets this time perhaps they didn't did he know grate the sy forces as much as would liked to. Secretary Mattis, one of the things he saids they used double the number O tomahawk missiles, cruise missil, in this strike. That's not a whole lot of missiles. It mightnd like a lot, sayingdouble. There were 59 last year. We've got about 118 this year. Whether the destruction is permanent orcan rebuild. Certainly the will keep an eye on the facilities. The scientific research center, the cod a chemical weapon storage facility, the pri lotion of Syrian sarin. E third contained chemical weapon storageacility and important command post. You've wonder if there was any sort O lives lost in the facilities. It was at 4:00e morning which is one of the Rea they waited for dark is the hope people were not in ere. Secretary Mattis made the P again and again about civilian lives. Mitigationksf civilian casuals and minimize the maximum degree civilian casualties. We heard him talk about this sterday up on the hill talking T his greatest ncern. Said concern we't add any CIVI deaths. We're ting to stop the deaths of innocent people. Ho doe keep this from esting out of control? Se to me thatretary Mattis won this argtause it wasn't a broader strike. It wasn't aga the infrastructure in Syria or any sof command and control that W hurt Assad. He went directly after these chemical wnfrastructure facility. Again, they did not G after those air fs this time because I T the thought they wld up again. Martha, quick question before breahere, how big of an innce do you think Stary Mattis had the president and his T nationalecurity team this week?we saw a Chang te initially presented by the president. The tweet of shiny N missiles on theway. Then saying before the acanpeople held have decision within4 to 48 hours. We know that several went . It would appear secretary Mattis' strategy W out in the end. I think president trump greatly appates secretary Mattis' input. He listens to him. He is delite thoughtful.he'll lay out many options, but he also tell youhal happen if you pick tt option one of secretary Matt concerns is there would be an overreaction in Syria and ele and do we D next? I thinkple like sec Mattis whose aetired four-starmarines always lor at will happen next. This I what he a the general were most comable wit and targeting justhose cilities.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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