Trump attempts to cloud timing of potential Syria strike

Syrian President shaking hands with Russian leader Vladimir Putin- Archived

President Donald Trump huddled with top national security advisors Thursday to weigh his military options in Syria, as Moscow warned against any move that risks triggering a conflict between Russian Federation and the United States.

What seems to be delaying that decision is the fear a strike could spark a much bigger war than anyone wants.

Formally, the prime minister has the right to go to war without approval from parliament, but a convention has been established in previous conflicts where MPs have a vote either before or shortly after military action begins.

The worry of Russian retaliation is real and there still appears to be an idea to punish Syria.

In a development on Thursday morning, Russian media reported Syrian government forces had seized control of the city at the centre of the escalating tensions, Douma, where the attack is said to have taken place.

The Secretary of Defence Jim Mattis has made it clear he has significant concerns over the unforeseen consequences of a strike on Syria. The United States is consulting with Britain and France about a joint military response to an alleged toxic gas attack in Douma that medics and rescuers said left at least 40 people dead on Saturday. "Could be very soon or not so soon at all!"

Haley made clear that the US administration was taking time to assess the full implications of military strikes on Syria after Russia warned that it could lead to a risky US-Russian war. This is in contrast to an incident one year ago in which the USA government had video and other evidence of certain aspects of an actual attack by Syrian aircraft, which involved the use of sarin gas.

Earlier on Thursday, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad warned the West against attacking Syria, saying accusations about the suspected chemical attack on Douma were "fabricated". USA officials have been consulting with France, Britain and other allies on a possible joint military operation, but the timing remained in doubt Wednesday.

President Donald Trump on Thursday put off a final decision on possible military strikes against Syria after tweeting earlier that they could happen "very soon or not so soon at all".

Asked whether the USA military was ready to conduct an attack in Syria if ordered, Mattis replied, "We stand ready to provide military options if they're appropriate, as the president determined".

During the two-hour meeting yesterday afternoon, ministers agreed to join forces with the U.S. and France to prevent Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad's forces from launching an "appalling and inhumane" attack again.

"Japan can not make a judgment on whether Assad's government forces really used chemical weapons", a senior Foreign Ministry official said of the latest attack.

Macron said Thursday that France has proof that the Syrian government launched chlorine gas attacks and said France would not tolerate "regimes that think everything is permitted".

The use of chemical weapons is a war crime.

"You are a minority Government, and you need to seek the consent of Parliament before you commit the United Kingdom to any action".

Echoing the United States stance, France said Assad's government had reached a "point of no return" with repeated use of chemical weapons.

The Syrian government denies responsibility.

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