WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on U.S. reaction to the apparent chemical attack in Syria (all times local):
President Donald Trump has condemned the “heinous” suspected poison gas attack in Syria and said he’ll make a decision on the U.S. response within 24 to 48 hours.
Speaking in the White House Cabinet Room Monday, Trump vowed to find out who is responsible for the attack that reportedly killed at least 40 people.
Trump said during a Cabinet meeting with reporters that, “If it’s Russia, if it’s Syria, if it’s Iran, if it’s all of them together, we’ll figure it out.”
Opposition activists said 40 people died in the chemical attack late Saturday in the suburbs of the Syrian capital and blamed it on the Syrian government, which is closely allied with Russia.
Syria has blamed Israel for a missile attack on a central air base early Monday that reportedly killed 14 people, including three Iranians.
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis says the U.S. is not ruling out military airstrikes against Syria in response to the government’s alleged use of toxic gas against civilians.
At a photo-taking session in the Pentagon before a meeting with the emir of Qatar on Monday, Mattis said the Trump administration is consulting with allies in Europe, the Middle East and elsewhere.
Asked by a reporter about a possible U.S. military response, Mattis said, “I don’t rule out anything right now.”
Mattis also said the “first thing” the administration is considering is why chemical weapons are being used at all in Syria. Russia was a guarantor of a deal the Obama administration struck in 2013 in which Syria was to have removed all of its chemical weapons. Mattis added that the administration will work with other countries to “address this issue.”
President Donald Trump plans to confer with senior military leaders Monday, after he threatened a “big price to pay” for a suspected poison gas attack in Syria that killed women and children.
Trump was set to get a briefing and have dinner with military leaders. Monday is the first day on the job for his new national security adviser, John Bolton, who has previously advocated significant airstrikes against Syria.
The White House deliberations came as Russia and the Syrian military blamed Israel for a pre-dawn missile attack on a major air base in central Syria. They are saying Israeli fighter jets launched the missiles from Lebanon’s air space. A war-monitoring group said the airstrikes killed 14 people, including Iranians active in Syria.