Trump puts off decision on Syria strikes

Bodies of the victims of an alleged chemical attack in rebel-held Douma Syria

Bodies of the victims of an alleged chemical attack in rebel-held Douma Syria

In addition to having two destroyers nearby, it is possible the US also has unacknowledged submarines positioned off the coast of Syria ready to fire satellite-guided, highly precise Tomahawk cruise missiles - the very type of smart missiles the president tweeted about. "This posturing may trigger a unsafe process", Pushkov said on Thursday at a meeting with representatives for the Association of Foreign Correspondents at the Federation Council.

But in tweeting about a potential attack, Trump appeared to publicly telegraph military plans - something for which he heavily criticized former President Barack Obama back in 2013. There is no magic solution to all the miseries that bedevil Syria, but it has become, at the very least, imperative to stop the attacks with which Syria's Assad has for years now been engaged in the monstrous business of normalizing the use of chemical weapons. Syria has denied involvement.

In his televised address from the White House on Friday evening, Trump said the US was prepared to sustain economic, diplomatic and military pressure on Assad until the Syrian leader ends what Trump called a criminal pattern of killing his own people with internationally banned chemical weapons. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis took a more measured tone, saying the US and its military coalition partners were still studying intelligence on the attack.

The attack in Douma happened late on Saturday amid a resumed offensive by Syrian government forces after the collapse of a truce with the Army of Islam rebel group. They have also blamed Iran for its support of the Syrian regime.

In a United States military action a year ago in response to a sarin gas attack, the Pentagon said missiles took out almost 20 per cent of the Syrian air force.

It remains hard to place an exact figure on the number of people killed and wounded Saturday on the outskirts of Damascus, a development that has pushed the United States and its allies to the verge of military confrontation in Syria.

"We're not going to leave until we know we've accomplished those things", she said.

"We worked assiduously through the final days of the administration to galvanize our allies and other worldwide partners to help us address these omissions". Trump said in a morning tweet.

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The decision to strike, after days of deliberations, marked Trump's second order to attack Syria. Syria joined the pact in 2013 as part of the agreement to destroy its chemical weapons stockpile, negotiated between Russian Federation and the Obama administration.

Russian Federation has urged the U.S. to avoid taking military action in response to an alleged chemical attack in Syria.

The president is also assessing his options with a new national security adviser.

May will host a Cabinet meeting on Thursday "to discuss the response to Syria", a Downing Street spokesperson confirmed to CNN. USA lawmakers questioned whether Trump has the legal authority to order strikes without Congressional approval and opposition parties voiced concern.

Trump seemed to be backtracking from his Wednesday tweet, which warned Russian Federation to brace for missiles which "will be coming". 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. It "could be very soon or not so soon at all". The damage was intentionally limited and proportional, but it sent a message that the United States won't look the other way when a madman gasses his own people.

Just weeks ago, Trump said he wanted to end US involvement in Syria and bring American troops home to focus on the homeland. She said he also "wants to make sure Assad is deterred from chemical weapons attacks on innocent civilians".

The OPCW said it would "shortly" deploy a fact-finding team to Douma for an investigation, but USA officials said they were working from their own information and would not necessarily hold back. House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., tweeted that "there must be immediate and severe consequences from the global community" for the chemical weapons attack.

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