Published: Sun, April 15, 2018
Global | By Marsha Munoz

Syria's Assad: Western action would 'further destabilize' region

"They will be coming, nice and new and smart", Trump tweeted. The White House said he would consult further with allies. British officials said up to 75 people were killed.

White House spokeswoman, Sarah Sanders, told reporters that a final decision on military strikes had not been taken. "We are continuing to assess intelligence and are engaged in conversations with our partners and allies".

"The president has a number of options at his disposal and a number remain on the table", Ms Sanders said during a briefing on Wednesday evening.

The Syrian media has announced that several missiles targeted Tayfur military airbase in the countryside of the city of Homs, killing 14 members of the Syrian army and Iranian forces. And he insisted it remains US policy not to be involved directly in Syria's civil war.

Ten hours after the missiles hit, smoke was still rising from the remains of five destroyed buildings of the Syrian Scientific Research Centre in Barzeh, which a Syrian employee said medical components were researched and developed. "It is to drive this to a United Nations -brokered peace but, at the same time, keep our foot on the neck of ISIS until we suffocate it", referring to the Islamic State extremist group.

Later Thursday he was noncommittal.

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Mr. Mattis said options would be discussed with Mr.Trump at a meeting of his National Security Council on Thursday afternoon. USA lawmakers questioned whether Trump has the legal authority to order strikes without Congressional approval and opposition parties voiced concern. A joint military operation, possibly with France rather than the the lead, could send a message of worldwide unity about enforcing the prohibitions on chemical weapons.

"We are prepared to sustain this pressure, if the Syrian regime is foolish enough to test our will".

"Cabinet agreed on the need to take action to alleviate humanitarian distress and to deter the further use of chemical weapons..."

The samples suggested the presence of both chlorine gas and an unnamed nerve agent, two officials said.

In a separate development, Reuters cited United States 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.

"Obviously the situation is very serious, obviously there has to be, now, a demand for a political process to end the war in Syria".

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

"The situation in the world is getting more chaotic", he said.

It follows a wave of strikes by the US, UK and France against alleged chemical weapons facilities in Syria.

"That's a case that I've made going back many, many years in Parliament", he added. "We need to know where that's going, what the objective of it is before we take that act".

President Trump warned Russian Federation on Wednesday to "get ready" for a missile attack on its Syrian ally, but tweeted Thursday that it may come "very soon or not so soon at all!"

The tweet followed an appearance by Russia's ambassador to Syrian-allied Lebanon, who told the Hezbollah-run television network Al-Manar that United States missiles would be shot down by Russian Federation, "as well as the sources they were fired from".

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