USA concerned about triggering wider war as it weighs strike on Syria

Djibouti flights resume after crashes Haley: Russian hands "covered in blood" from Syria attack MORE said Wednesday that the United States and its allies were "still assessing" reports of a chemical weapons attack in Syria, and that they are working on options to respond.

Trump earlier this week suggested that an attack was imminent.

On the complicated nature of the fight in Syria, Mattis said "at times you're going to see contrary impulses", after Rep. Joe Courtney, a Connecticut Democrat, read out some of President Donald Trump's tweets this week, first vowing to strike Syria, then suggesting the strikes may not be soon.

Mattis strongly condemned the alleged poisoning of a former Russian spy and his daughter by a nerve agent in England and the reported chemical attack on Syrian civilians as affronts to civilization. "The OPCW (Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons) is the organization for the chemical weapons convention - we're trying to get those inspectors in probably within the week". However, there have been "contrary impulses", he said, such as last year's USA missile strikes in Syria in response to a chemical attack and now recent discussions for another strike for the same reason. "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".

That boast came about a day after Trump tweeted for Russian Federation to "get ready", because US missiles "will be coming, nice and new and 'smart!'" Officials later said no decisions on a Syria strike had been made when the commander in chief tweeted that.

Meanwhile, Russian ambassador to the U.N. Vitaly Churkin said Russia does not rule out the possibility of a conflict with the USA, adding that the main priority is averting war in Syria.

"Now we have to make some further decisions". "Our strategy is to engage by, with and through allies in all things we do".

In fact, Defense Secretary James Mattis told lawmakers today that he will provide the White House with military options against the Syrian regime, but the president has not yet settled on a course of action.

The United States, France and Britain are finalising plans for an expected strike against the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. It is in the United States' best interests that global agreements banning the use of chemical weapons be obeyed, he said.

Emphasizing that the use of chemical weapons was "simply inexcusable", the defense secretary also accused Moscow of complicity in Syria's alleged retention of a chemical weapons stockpile.

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 Daesh. Recently, the Russian ambassador to Lebanon has vowed that Russia will shoot down any USA cruise missiles launched at Syria.

  • Tracy Klein