WHITE HOUSE — President Donald Trump
insists he "never said when an attack on
Syria would take place" in response to an
alleged chemical weapons attack, tweeting
that "it could be very soon or not so soon
A day after warning that "missiles will
be coming" to Syria, Trump also said
Thursday "the United States, under my
Administration, has done a great job of
ridding the region" of Islamic State.
The White House has said Trump is
considering striking Syria with missiles as
one option to retaliate for the latest
alleged chemical attack blamed on Syria’s
government forces. Scores of people were
killed or sickened in the attack Saturday in
the town of Douma, in eastern Ghouta on the
outskirts of Damascus. Syria has denied
using chemical weapons.
French President Emmanuel Macron said
Thursday France has "proof" that chemical
weapons were used by Syrian leader Bashar
al-Assad's regime. He said France will
respond at the time of its choosing.
Officials and analysts in Washington say
a robust, U.S.-led retaliatory military
response is expected within days.
Speaking at a House Armed Services
Committee hearing Thursday, Defense
Secretary Jim Mattis promised communication
to Congress prior to any attack on Syria.
In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel said
she supports sending a message that the use
of chemical weapons is unacceptable but her
country will not take part in any military
After Russia's ambassador to Lebanon said
this week Russian forces would shoot down
any missiles fired at Syria, Trump said on
Twitter Wednesday that the Russians should
be ready, "because they will be coming."
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis responds to
reporter's question about military action in
Syria during a meeting with Netherlands
Minister of Defense Ank Bijleveld at the
Pentagon in Washington, April 11, 2018.
Secretary Mattis on Wednesday said while
intelligence about the attack in Syria is
still being assessed, “we stand ready to
provide military options if they're
appropriate as the president determined."
Meanwhile, British Prime Minister Theresa
May convened an emergency Cabinet meeting
Thursday to discuss what role Britain will
play in any response to the situation in
The Kremlin has called on all parties
involved in Syria to refrain from actions
that could destabilize the region.
FILE - This
photo released by the Syrian Civil Defense
White Helmets, which has been authenticated
based on its contents and other AP
reporting, shows smoke rising after Syrian
government airstrikes hit in the town of
Douma, eastern Ghouta region, east of
Syrian rebels claim government forces
dropped barrel bombs containing poisonous
chemicals on civilians in Douma.
Russia’s military announced on Thursday
that the Syrian government is now in full
control of the area.
More than 2,000 U.S. troops are in Syria,
where a U.S.-led coalition has launched
thousands of airstrikes — mostly on Islamic
State and other extremists.
FILE - A general view shows the
nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Harry
S. Truman at an undisclosed position in the
The USS Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike
Group, with about 6,500 sailors, departed
Norfolk in Virginia on Wednesday for what
the U.S. navy termed a routine deployment to
Europe and the Middle East. A U.S. Navy
guided missile destroyer, the Donald Cook,
departed Cyprus on Monday in the
The Cook and the USS Porter, on April 7
last year, together launched 59 Tomahawk
cruise missiles from the Mediterranean at
Syria’s Shayrat airbase in response to a
chemical attack three days prior that killed
at least 74 people and sickened hundreds.
The Porter is also in the U.S. 6th Fleet
area of operations, which includes the