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.
Britain's government weighed the possibility of military action against Syria on Thursday, agreeing the "need to take action" despite polls showing the public remains wary of military intervention. The Syrian government has been known to use chlorine bombs, along with sarin, a nerve agent developed by Nazi Germany that was used in a 2013 attack that killed almost 1,500 people outside of Damascus.
Trump said Thursday on Twitter.
"What we've got here in Syria is a choice between monsters on the one hand and maniacs on the other", Julian Lewis, the chairman of the House of Commons defence committee, told the BBC.
Blood and urine samples from victims of the attack have tested positive for chlorine and an unknown nerve agent, NBC News reports.
According to media reports, a Russian official said that Russia is ready to shoot down any and all missiles fired at Syria by the United States, while the USA side threatened military options at any time. Trump's ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, told NBC News on Thursday the administration has "enough proof" of the chemical attack but was still considering its response.
At the House hearing, Democrats grilled Mattis on the wisdom and legality of Trump ordering an attack on Syria without explicit authorization from Congress. Mattis argued it would be justified as an act of self-defense, with 2,000 USA ground troops in Syria; he insisted he could not talk about military plans because an attack "is not yet in the offing".More news: Downed power line believed to have caused house fire near Amherst
The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons had said it meant to send investigators to Douma to look for evidence of a chemical attack.
"So striking at Syria is not a good solution, but doing nothing after the use of chemical weapons is even worse", he said.
Speaking to reporters at the White House later in the day, Trump said a decision had not yet been made on a course of action. "We are not seeking escalation".
Rep. Adam Smith, the ranking Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee, said he sees no legal justification for a US strike in Syria, absent explicit authorization by Congress. "Not to react is to prove to the rest of the world that what we say does not matter".
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 unsafe US-Russian war.
The White Helmets, a Syrian civil defense agency, blamed the Assad regime for the Saturday night chemical attack in the city of Douma in Eastern Ghouta, which it said killed 78 civilians and injured hundreds of others. 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.
"And, I would simply say to the Prime Minister: be very careful, because you do not have a majority in Parliament".