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Trump puts off decision on Syria strikes

14 April, 2018, 11:58 | Author: Priscilla Morrison
  • No quick exit from Syria: Chemical weapons change the US calculus again

President Donald Trump announced the strikes in a televised address to the nation, saying the attack on Douma was "the crime of a monster" in his address. "Could be very soon or not so soon at all!" he wrote.

This is not a drill: Syria showdown could spark Israeli-Iranian and U.S. Navy submarines also are capable of firing Tomahawks; their movements are kept secret but they are commonly in the Mediterranean.

President Donald Trump and his national security aides on Thursday discussed US options on Syria, where he has threatened missile strikes in response to a suspected poison gas attack, as a Russian envoy voiced fears of wider conflict between Washington and Moscow.

Both European countries said they also have evidence Assad's forces carried out Saturday's chemical weapons attack, adding that the Syrian regime can not go unpunished.

Western leaders have made clear the alleged toxic gas strike on the Damascus suburb of Douma must not go unanswered - despite a warning from the United Nations secretary-general that the crisis could trigger a "full-blown military escalation".

Trump said that the "massacre" last weekend in Syria "was a significant escalation in a pattern of chemical weapons use by that very bad regime".

Both the Russian military and the Syrian government said they would facilitate the mission and ensure the inspectors' security.

But Mattis also has noted the risk of military action and said the US should continue its policy not to be involved directly in Syria's civil war.

"Our strategy remains the same as a year ago", he said.

The United States is consulting with Britain and France about a joint military response to the attack in Douma that medics and rescuers said left at least 40 people dead on Saturday. The administration said previously any response Assad's alleged chemical weapons use would be done in consultation with allies.

Britain´s Prime Minister Theresa May was more cautious, but by the time the first precision cruise missile was launched, Trump had a mini-coalition.




The White House today confirmed the President is yet to make a final decision on the situation in Syria.

Russia's military said on Thursday that Douma was now under full control of the Syrian government after a Russian-mediated deal secured the evacuation of the rebels and thousands of civilians after it was recaptured by Syrian forces. US President Donald Trump has promised a "forceful" response, and he and his Defence Secretary, James Mattis, have cancelled travel plans this week.

A day before a team from the worldwide chemical weapons watchdog was to arrive in Douma, just east of Damascus, Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov, said Britain was "directly involved in the provocation", but didn't elaborate or provide evidence. They are expected to arrive on Saturday.

Last week, Trump advocated pulling USA troops out of the country altogether, a drastic move strongly opposed by top military officials.

Rep. Adam Smith, the ranking Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee, said he sees no legal justification for a USA strike in Syria, absent explicit authorization by Congress.

Many of those positions, Haley noted, were full of civilians, despite Russian Federation and Syria's contention that they were bombing terrorists.

If the strikes are aimed at destroying the chemical capabilities of the regime, as suggested by Macron, "we can go very far", Duclos said, warning against one-off strikes. "I think that, when you look back at President Obama sending the United States troops into Syria at the time he did, he also had to deal with this type of situation, because we are going after a named terrorist group that was not actually named in the AUMF that put them in", he said.

Syrian-Americans have been fiercely divided over the Assad regime since the outset of war in 2011, so it was no surprise that they were also divided in their response to USA airstrikes.

"The immediate priority is to avert the danger of war", Moscow's United Nations ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said on Thursday.

What is less clear is whether sarin - the agent used in the chemical attack last April that prompted United States missile strikes - or a similar agent was also used.

Shortly after warning that missiles were coming, Trump tweeted that the USA "relationship with Russian Federation is worse now than it has ever been, and that includes the Cold War".

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