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Trump refuses to give timeline for Syria intervention

17 April 2018

US President Donald Trump has warned Russian Federation of imminent military action in Syria over a suspected poison gas attack, declaring that missiles "will be coming" and lambasting Moscow for standing by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Military brass and senior national security officials huddled at the White House for 90 minutes on Thursday afternoon to consider their options.

Cafarella said the United States must decide how far it wants to go in terms of hitting Iranian proxy forces near USA positions in eastern Syria, or even targeting Russian-supported facilities.

The United States and several of its allies have focused on Syrian forces as being responsible, while Syria and Russian Federation have denied President Bashar al-Assad's military carried out a chemical attack. It "could be very soon or not so soon at all".

The ongoing deliberations reflected the conundrum Trump faces as he contemplates wading further into Syria's multi-sided civil war.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said the goal of the strikes were to "destroy the Syrian regime's chemical weapons research, development and production capabilities".

Mr. Trump's early morning comments were remarkable in that he is, in some way, telegraphing the United States' response to a suspected chemical weapons attack in Syria, which is something he had previously criticized other leaders for doing.

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The UN has had its chance, many times over, to try to stop this.

The OPCW, which works to rid the world of chemical arms stockpiles, said its experts were on their way to Syria and will start their work on Saturday.

Mattis was expected to voice those concerns in Thursday's meeting at the White House, according to USA officials. In fact, Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said no additional attacks were planned.

He said, "Ten days ago, President Trump wanted to withdraw from Syria".

Asked if he was referring to a conflict between America and Russian Federation, he told reporters: "We can not exclude any possibilities unfortunately because we saw messages coming from Washington".

"We will need to take decisions in due course, when we judge it most useful and effective", Macron told broadcaster TF1. "So they'll be made fairly soon". According to the United Nations envoy for Syria, an estimated 400,000 Syrians have been killed since 2011. "You shouldn't be partners with a Gas Killing Animal who kills his people and enjoys it!"

"We're still assessing the intelligence, ourselves and our allies. I refer you to the White House to characterise the president's tweet", a Pentagon spokesman said.

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Official said at the time he was moved by images brought to him by his daughter Ivanka and other White House officials.

Jennifer Cafarella, a Syria analyst for the Washington-based Institute for the Study of War, told AFP that one potential target would be Dumayr military airport northeast of Damascus, from where regime aircraft used in Saturday's attack may have launched.

Nearly exactly a year ago, the US launched 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles at a Syrian government airbase in retaliation for another chemical weapons attack.

The public suggestion of United States military confrontation with Russian Federation is sure to raise tensions in an already volatile situation and add more confusion to U.S. policy in the region.

"All the indications are that the Syrian regime was responsible and we will be working with our closest allies on how we can ensure that those who are responsible are held to account". "The situation is tense", Peskov said, adding that Russian Federation is calling for an "unprejudiced and objective investigation before making judgements" on the suspected use of chemical weapons.

Those comments go further than USA officials have been willing to in public. "The president holds Syria and Russian Federation responsible for this chemical weapons attack".

Washington, Paris and London said they have proof, without identifying it, that chlorine gas caused victims to suffocate.

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Syria's military has repositioned some air assets to avoid missile strikes, USA officials told Reuters. That attack triggered a swift decision by Trump to launch a fusillade of Tomahawk missiles at a Syrian airbase.

Trump refuses to give timeline for Syria intervention