Published: Thu, April 12, 2018
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

Trump yet to make decision on Syria action, says Mattis

Trump yet to make decision on Syria action, says Mattis

Defense Secretary Mattis told the Congress that the United States is committed to ending Syria civil war through Geneva process, blames Russian Federation for being complicit in Syrian regime's retention of chemical weapons.

Mattis declined to discuss USA military planning on Syria but he acknowledged two main concerns as Washington mulls potential action against Syria's Bashar al-Assad's forces: protecting civilians and avoiding triggering a military escalation that could get "out of control". "So they'll be made fairly soon".

Mattis also said the use of chemical weapons in Syria is "simply inexcusable", after a suspected poison gas attack in eastern Ghouta's Douma on Saturday. "But on a strategic level, it's (about) how do we keep this from escalating out of control", Mattis said.

Jeffrey also said that he thinks Mattis is anxious about losing focus on North Korea, which could result from an attack Syria.

Earlier in the morning, President Donald Trump, following up on a tweet he made a day earlier about a potential missile strike in Syria, tweeted he "never said when an attack would take place". "So, I can not tell you that we have evidence, even though we have a lot of media and social media indicators that either chlorine or sarin was used".

Trump earlier this week suggested that an attack was imminent.

But Democratic Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard disagreed, and said last year's strike on a Syrian airfield following a chemical attack in Khan Sheikhun was illegal. "Could be very soon or not so soon at all!"

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"We will have decisions to make in good time, when we decide that it is most useful and most efficient", he said, referring to potential military strikes, and adding that any strikes would target the regime's chemical infrastructure.

"This is a complex area, I'll be the first to admit it", Mattis said.

Mattis put the onus for verification on an Organization on a Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) fact-finding team assigned to investigate, saying Washington is trying to get them to the site outside of Damascus within the week.

Mattis said a strike on the Assad regime in Syria would be authorized under Constitutional powers granted to the president, and would not require Congressional permission.

"Get ready Russian Federation", he said in a tweet.

"The president has said, though, what he was going to do, I think it is important as a nation that we follow through on those things, we've waited too long already", said Mr. Corker, who is chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and is retiring from the Senate at the end of this year. "We know how much we have to work with".

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