Trump yet to make decision on Syria action, says Mattis

Charlene Craig
April 14, 2018

US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis on Friday called on the worldwide community to "urgently" unite and bring an end to Syria's civil war.

The U.S., together with Britain and France, hit Syrian targets with double the weapons used in the Tomahawk cruise missile strike on Syria last April, Mattis explained.

"Clearly the Assad regime did not get the message a year ago", Mattis said, referring to the retaliatory US strike on a Syrian air field following a previous chemical weapons attack.

The safety secretary says Friday's strikes have "despatched a clear message" to Assad and his "murderous lieutenants". In conducting these strikes, we have gone to great lengths to avoid civilian and foreign casualties. Trump's ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, told NBC News on Thursday the administration has "enough proof" of the chemical attack but was still considering its response. He said the three nations have "marshaled their righteous power". An AP reporter in Damascus says the attacks turned the sky orange.

In an address Friday night, President Donald Trump said that Washington was prepared to "sustain" pressure on the Assad regime until it stopped its use of chemical weapons against its own people.

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Mattis and Dunford acknowledged the strike was created to degrade Syria's chemical weapons capability without killing civilians or the many foreign fighters in Syria's multi-sided civil war, particularly those from Russian Federation.

The United States, along with assurance from France and the United Kingdom, launched a response Friday against the regime of Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad days after his government allegedly used chemical weapons on its citizens.

Several lawmakers grilled the Pentagon chief on the legal authorities the military has for action in Syria beyond the remit of its current mission, which is to work to destroy the Islamic State group.

"That will depend on Mr. Assad, should he decide to use more chemical weapons in the future", Mattis replied.

Trump has signaled in recent weeks that, despite advice from his national security team, he wanted to accelerate the timetable of the withdrawal of American forces.

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The targets were specifically selected "to degrade the Syrian war machines ability to create chemical weapons", the secretary further explained.

"And the only reason Assad is still in power is because of the Russians' regrettable vetoes in the United Nations, and the Russian and the Iranian military", he said.

At the House hearing, Democrat representative Tulsi Gabbard disputed Trump's legal authority to act without congressional authority and suggested a U.S. strike would lead to war with Russian Federation.

He said he became convinced Thursday, after he expressed those doubts. "He's moreover going to hold the Russians and the Iranians who're propping up this regime accountable".

On Wednesday, Trump tweeted that Russian Federation should get ready for new and "smart" missiles that would be coming to Syria.

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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.

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