DONALD Trump has defended his use of the term "mission accomplished" amid suggestions that the Assad regime had time to move its chemical weapons before the air strikes by the US, Britain and France took place.

The US President accused the "Fake News Media" of seizing on the term to demean the strikes; it was previously ridiculed when George W Bush appeared in front of a banner carrying the term during the Iraq war.

Characteristically, Mr Trump took to Twitter to defend his use of the term. “The Syrian raid was so perfectly carried out, with such precision, that the only way the Fake News Media could demean was by my use of the term ‘Mission Accomplished’.

“I knew they would seize on this but felt it is such a great military term, it should be brought back. Use often!” he added.

Boris Johnson admitted there had been so-called “deconfliction conversations” with the Russians before the strikes took place.

The Foreign Secretary explained: “This was about chemical weapons. This was about three particular sites; this was about our determination to send a signal to act as a deterrent. And, yes, it was sensible therefore to have conversations and to de-conflict as far as was possible.”

He added: “I can’t say operationally exact what the contacts were but it was very important for them - in the currently understandably strained relations post Salisbury between us and Russia - to understand the limits of what we’re trying to do.”

But Caroline Lucas, the co-leader of the Greens, noted: “We don’t know how much it’s degraded their capacity; there’s lots of evidence to suggest or at least there are people suggesting that already some of the chemical weapons were moved to other sites to avoid the airstrikes.”

Justin Bronk from the military think-tank RUSI in London noted: “The facilities hit are likely to have had the important equipment and personnel moved over the past few days in anticipation of strikes, so assuming no further attacks, we can safely file this one under ‘symbolic.’”

Three sites were targeted:

*the Barzeh research and development centre near Damascus was struck by 76 missiles. “Initial assessments are that this target was destroyed. This is going to set the Syrian chemical weapons programme back for years," said Lt Gen Kenneth McKenzie, Director of the US military's Joint Staff.

*two Him Shinshar chemical weapons storage sites west of Homs, described as "the primary location of Syrian Sarin and precursor production equipment," were struck by 27 missiles.

The Russian defence ministry claimed 71 of the 103 missiles fired were shot down by Syrian air defence systems. The claim was denied by Washington.