Trump yet to make decision on Syria action, says Mattis

Hannah Rogers
April 14, 2018

Mattis says the Syrian government used chemical weapons on its own people last week. That meant airstrikes, possibly in tandem with France and other allies that have expressed outrage at the alleged Syrian chemical attack, could be launched within hours of a presidential decision. "This evening, we conducted strikes with two allies on multiple sites".

The safety secretary says Friday's strikes have "despatched a clear message" to Assad and his "murderous lieutenants".

"The combined American, British and French response to these atrocities will integrate all instruments of our national power: military, economic and diplomatic", Trump said.

The strikes in Syria came in response to the alleged chemical attack carried out in a town in western Syria, near Damascus, that killed dozens, including children. One of those targets was a chemical weapons storage facility, which the Pentagon assessed as the primary location of Syrian sarin and precursor production storage.

Explosions are being heard to the east, west and south of Damascus as a result of the U.S., U.Okay. and France conduct airstrikes in retaliation for an alleged chemical assault by the Syrian authorities by itself people. British Prime Minister Theresa May and French President Emmanuel Macron said the United Kingdom and France had joined in the attack.

"We used our normal deconfliction channels".

"We hope that there will be no point of return - that the U.S. and their allies will refrain from military action against a sovereign state", Nebenzia told reporters late on Thursday.

President Donald Trump is set to address the nation Friday night amid anticipation of a retaliatory strike for an apparent Syrian chemical weapon attack last week.

"The second priority now is for the OPCW mission to reach Damascus and Douma, and to see what's really happened", he said.

The presence of Russian troops and air defenses in Syria had been amongst fairly just a few points weighing on Trump, who ought to moreover consider the hazards to roughly 2,000 American troops inside the nation if Russia had been to retaliate for USA strikes. By Thursday afternoon, NBC News reported the USA had confirmed the presence of a nerve agent and chlorine gas in blood and urine samples of the attack victims.

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The third target, which was also near Homs, contained both a chemical weapons equipment storage facility and a command post. A joint military operation, possibly with France rather than the USA in the lead, could send a message of worldwide unity about enforcing the prohibitions on chemical weapons.

"We were not out to expand this".

"Our strategy remains the same as a year ago: 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", Mattis said. The U.S. - the possessor of the biggest arsenal of chemical weapons - has no moral right to blame other countries. He did, however, say Syrian surface-to-air missiles were deployed against the attack, and did not believe Russian Federation responded at all.

With respect to retaliation, Gen. Dunford said he was unaware of any U.S. troop losses, and could neither confirm or deny Syrian reports of missiles being shot down. "So they did make adjustments".

Mattis said he personally believes Syria is guilty of an "inexcusable" use of chemical weapons, while noting that the global fact-finding team would likely fall short of determining who was responsible. "We did not coordinate targets or any planning with the Russians".

"We will not know, if this investigating team that goes in - if we get them in, if the regime will let them in - we will not know who did it", he said.

At the same time, he said, the US had no intention to expand the strike further than chemical weapons-type targets.

Mr. Dunford would not describe the military assets that were deployed but added that, "this wave of air strikes is over".

Asked if the United States and its allies planned to continue military operations beyond Friday's strikes, Mattis replied that it depended on Assad.

Trump said the strikes were in coordination with France and the United Kingdom, adding that the goal of the campaign is to "establish a strong deterrent against the production, spread and use of chemical weapons".

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