Trump is analyzing situation over Syria

Marsha Scott
April 16, 2018

Then Thursday he tweeted that an attack on Syria "could be very soon or not so soon at all!" US officials have been consulting with France, Britain and other allies on a possible joint military operation, but the timing remained in doubt Wednesday.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, however, indicated that evidence of what happened was still being studied.

Trump discussed the Syria situation with his national security team at the White House on Thursday. "We are continuing to assess intelligence and are engaged in conversations with our partners and allies".

In a development on Thursday morning, Russian media reported Syrian government forces had seized control of the city at the centre of the escalating tensions, Douma, where the attack is said to have taken place. The sites reportedly include "two Syrian airfields, a research center and a chemical weapons facility".

Trump did not detail what a strike on Syria would look like, or whether these would be US missiles. "It is to drive this to a United Nations -brokered peace but, at the same time, keep our foot on the neck of ISIS until we suffocate it", referring to the Islamic State extremist group. "Could be very soon or not so soon at all!", the President tweeted.

Later Thursday he was noncommittal.

Photo Vasily A. Nebenzya, the Russian ambassador to the United Nations, exchanged harsh words with the American ambassador at a Security Council meeting on Friday. The United States is consulting with Britain and France about a joint military response to an alleged toxic gas attack in Douma that medics and rescuers said left at least 40 people dead on Saturday. A joint military operation, possibly with France rather than the the lead, could send a message of global unity about enforcing the prohibitions on chemical weapons.

Officials also said that the USA has compiled intelligence from the US and other countries, including images, that indicate the Syrian government was behind the weekend attack. He also said the proof shows it was carried out by the regime of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad. The Cabinet agreed on the need to "take action" to deter further chemical weapons use by Assad, but added that May would continue to consult with allies to coordinate an worldwide response.

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Blood and urine samples from victims of the attack have tested positive for chlorine and an unknown nerve agent, NBC News reports.

"Cabinet agreed on the need to take action to alleviate humanitarian distress and to deter the further use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime", a spokeswoman for the prime minister said in a statement after the meeting.

Speaking to reporters at the White House later in the day, Trump said a decision had not yet been made on a course of action.

Echoing the USA stance, France said Assad's government had reached a "point of no return" with repeated use of chemical weapons.

Asked about the risks of USA military retaliation, Mattis cited two concerns, starting with avoiding civilian casualties. "We are not seeking escalation". More broadly, he doubted the wisdom of bombing. "Not to react is to prove to the rest of the world that what we say does not matter".

Trump posted a tweet on Wednesday warning Russian Federation to "get ready" because missiles "will be coming" to Syria.

"And, I would simply say to the Prime Minister: be very careful, because you do not have a majority in Parliament".

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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