Syria 'Chemical Attack': US Weighs Up Military Response

US President Donald Trump

Trump threatened on Wednesday to launch a missile attack on Syria in response to the alleged chemical attack by Syrian troops in the rebel-held Douma district on the outskirts of Syrian capital Damascus.

"With every victory achieved on the field, the voices of some Western states are raised and actions are intensified in an attempt by them to change the course of events. these voices and any possible action will contribute nothing but an increase in instability in the region, threatening worldwide peace and security", Mr al Assad said according to Syrian state television.

The remarks by Dmitry Peskov, spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin, followed claims by French President Emmanuel Macron of "proof" that Syria used chemical weapons in the attack and a declaration that France will respond at a "time of our choosing".

Trump has slammed Russian Federation for its partnership with "Gas Killing Animal" Assad, spurring concerns that a U.S. strike could lead to a conflagration with Russian Federation, which has major military facilities at Tartus and Khmeimim and works cheek-by-jowl with Syria forces that could be targeted. On Thursday, Trump tweeted that an attack "could be very soon or not so soon at all!"

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There is no guarantee lawmakers would rubber-stamp a decision for military strikes.

His latest tweet, on Thursday evening, said: "Never said when an attack on Syria would take place". In Syria, this instinct points him away from a military-centric answer to Assad, writes Bonnie Kristian.

In a separate development, Reuters cited U.S. officials as saying that the Syrian military has re-positioned some air assets in response to Trump's threats to possibly ramp up military activity against Damascus.

Asked about the risks of USA military retaliation, Mattis cited two concerns, starting with avoiding civilian casualties.

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When asked about a possible United States missile strike on Syria earlier this week, Mattis said that he does not "rule out anything right now". More broadly, he doubted the wisdom of bombing.

"That's a case that I've made going back many, many years in Parliament", he added.

At stake in Syria is the potential for confrontation, if not outright conflict, between the US and Russian Federation, former Cold War foes whose relations have deteriorated in recent years over Moscow's intervention in Ukraine, its interference in the 2016 USA presidential election and its support for Syrian President Bashar Assad. Russia's ambassador to Lebanon said any missiles fired at Syria would be shot down and the launching sites targeted a stark warning of a potential major confrontation.

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