Trump pledges swift USA response to Syria chemical attack

Alfred Osborne
April 11, 2018

"We are meeting our military. and we'll be making some major decisions over the next 24 to 48 hours", Trump said.

The United States is weighing a multinational military response to the suspected Syrian poison gas attack, USA officials told Reuters on Monday, as experts listed several key facilities that could be viable targets.

The attack in Douma comes nearly exactly a year after a chemical atrocity in the northern Syrian town of Khan Sheikhoun killed dozens of people.

USA officials who spoke on condition of anonymity did not disclose any plans, but acknowledged military options were being developed. The Black Sea fleet announced on Tuesday that crews manning its advanced S-400 air defence systems were holding training drills.

Syria and Russian Federation blamed Israel for early morning air strikes on a Syrian military base as tensions among global powers embroiled in the Syrian civil war escalated. France has more than a dozen warplanes in the Middle East and could look to strike from the sea.

British UN Ambassador Karen Pierce told reporters ahead of the meeting that Britain "would prefer to start with a proper investigation", but all options were on the table and London was in close contact with its allies the United States and France. Read a quick recap of Syria's recent history here, and a timeline of Syria's chemical weapons use here. Trump said he was getting clarity about who precisely was responsible for the attack, but did not elaborate.

The UN's top human rights official, Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein, warned against what he called a "collective shrug" and "impotent" global response to the possible use of chemical weapons in Douma.

They cited potential strikes against bases including Dumayr air base, which is home to Syrian Mi-8 helicopters and has been linked in social media to the strike in Douma.

US ambassador to the United Nations addresses emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council on suspected chemical attack in Syria.

"Without any grounds and without thinking about the consequences, the governments of the USA, the United Kingdom, and France are pursuing a confrontational policy towards Russia and Syria and are pushing the others toward this", Nebenzya was quoted as saying by Russian state-run news agency TASS.

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"It depends on how serious they are", said Hassan Hassan, a senior fellow at the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy.

The guided missile destroyer is armed with Tomahawk cruise missiles, the weapon of choice in a United States attack one year ago on an airfield in Syria following an alleged sarin gas attack on civilians.

Israel has previously targeted Iranian units in Syria, but declined to comment on the latest strike.

"Russia and Iran have military advisers at the Assad regime's airfields and operations centers". Trump on Sunday specifically criticized Russian President Vladimir Putin for backing Assad, whom he called an "animal".

President Trump has cancelled his first trip to Latin America since his election as he considers his response to the alleged chemical attack on Syrian civilians.

Moscow has cautioned the USA not to launch a military attack.

The U.N. ambassador also hit Russian Federation and Iran for their alleged roles in "enabling the Assad regime's murderous destruction".

Russia's ambassador to Lebanon Alexander Zasypkin has said that his country would respond to any United States missiles fired at neighbouring Syria by shooting them down and targeting their launch sites.

They did not shoot down the attacking aircraft.

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