After a tense exchange with Russia concerning a possible American response to an Assad regime chemical attack, President Trump seems to have put a hold on a military strike while he considers his options.
Never said when an attack on Syria would take place. Could be very soon or not so soon at all! In any event, the United States, under my Administration, has done a great job of ridding the region of ISIS. Where is our “Thank you America?”
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 12, 2018
A presidential tweet on Thursday evening seemed to step back from a tweet just one day earlier when Trump warned the Russians to “get ready” for an American missile attack in Syria.
The Russian Ambassador to Lebanon stated on a Hezbollah television station that any US missiles fired at Syria will be shot down and the source of the missiles will be attacked. The threat seemed to be aimed at the USS Cook and the USS Porter, two naval destroyers currently stationed in the Mediterranean, both of which are capable of launching a cruise missile attack like the one Trump launched against Syria in April 2017. The U.S.S. Harry S. Truman, a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, is scheduled to head to the region with a full complement of strike and reconnaissance aircraft and surface warships.
The tension between the two superpowers is over a chemical weapons attack the US alleges forces of Syrian President Bashar Al Assad perpetrated on Saturday into the rebel-held town of Dhouma. British officials said up to 75 people were killed in the attack. Both the Syrian and Russian governments denied that such an attack occurred.
The White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, said in a brief statement on Thursday after Trump met with Mattis and other members of his National Security Council: “No final decision has been made. We are continuing to assess intelligence and are engaged in conversations with our partners and allies.”
“We are trying to stop the murder of innocent people. But on a strategic level, it’s how do we keep this from escalating out of control, if you get my drift on that,” Secretary of Defense General (ret.) James Mattis said on Thursday morning to the House Armed Services Committee. Matis seemed to be hinting at a possible confrontation with Russia which has a substantial military presence in Syria propping up Assad in the ongoing civil war.
“We do not wish for any escalation in the region,” said Mr. Macron. “But we simply wish that international law, and in particular international humanitarian law, be respected,” adding that his government had “proof” chemical weapons had been used.
Prime Minister Theresa May of Britain spoke by telephone with President Trump on Tuesday. In a statement to the press, the British government office said the two leaders had agreed on the importance of holding Assad responsible.