Trump says decisions coming 'fairly soon' on Syria action

From Reuters - April 12, 2018

WASHINGTON/LONDON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump said he was holding meetings on Thursday on Syria, where he has threatened missile strikes in response to a suspected poison gas attack, and expected to make decisions fairly soon.

Fears of confrontation between Russia, Syrias big ally, and the West have been running high since Trump said on Wednesday that missiles will be coming in response to the attack in the Syrian town of Douma on April 7, and lambasted Moscow for standing by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Never said when an attack on Syria would take place. Could be very soon or not so soon at all! Trump wrote in a tweet on Thursday.

Later, he said: Were having a number of meetings today, well see what happens. Now we have to make some ... decisions, so theyll be made fairly soon.

French President Emmanuel Macron said France had proof the Syrian government carried out the attack near Damascus, which aid groups have said killed dozens of people, and will decide whether to strike back when all the necessary information has been gathered.

We have proof that last week ... chemical weapons were used, at least with chlorine, and that they were used by the regime of Bashar al-Assad, Macron said, without offering details of any evidence.

We will need to take decisions in due course, when we judge it most useful and effective, Macron told broadcaster TF1.

Prime Minister Theresa May held a special cabinet meeting to weigh whether Britain should join in any possible military action. She has cast the attack in Douma, which was held at the time by rebels, as barbaric.

Syria and its backers, Russia and Iran, have said reports of the attack were fabricated by rebels and rescue workers in Douma and have accused the United States of seeking to use it as a pretext to attack the Syrian government.

In Washington, U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told Congress he believed there was a chemical attack in Syria, but added a short while later that the United States had not made any decision to launch military action in Syria.

NBC News reported that U.S. officials obtained blood and urine samples from victims of the Douma attack that tested positive for chemicals, mainly for chlorine and some for a nerve agent. The officials said they were confident in the intelligence though not 100 percent sure, NBC News said on its website.

A team of experts from the global chemical weapons watchdog, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, wastraveling to Syria and will start their investigations on Saturday, the Netherlands-based agency said.

It was not clear whether Trump and U.S. allies would wait for the results of the investigation before deciding on a possible strike.



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