Sunday, September 19, 2021

Trump to speak with Macron, May before making decision on Syria

Washington, Apr 12 (EFE).- President Donald Trump continues to consider possible responses to the presumed chemical attack on the Syrian rebel town of Douma and on Thursday evening will speak by telephone on the issue with the leaders of the United Kingdom and France, the White House said.

“We are continuing to assess intelligence and are engaged in conversations with our partners and allies,” said White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders in a communique, adding that Trump will speak with French President Emmanuel Macron and British Prime Minister Theresa May by phone on Thursday evening.

The announcement comes hours after Defense Secretary James Mattis acknowledged before Congress that the US still does not have definitive evidence that the attack was made with sarin gas, telling lawmakers that Trump was thinking about meeting with his main security advisers to discuss the matter.

A final decision on whether to use military force has not yet been made, Sanders added in the statement.

A few hours before the White House issued its statement, the British government had expressed its intention to “continue working” with the US and France to “coordinate an international response” to the chemical attack last weekend that killed at least 43 people and has been attributed to the regime of Bashar al-Assad.

After several days during which Trump fired off a series of belligerent Twitter messages and said he was open to unilateral military action against Syria, in recent hours the administration has taken pains to tone down the rhetoric.

Trump said on Thursday that he had not established a time period within which a US military strike might be carried out against Syria, but he said that a decision on the matter would be made quite soon.

However, during an appearance before the House Armed Services Committee, Mattis was more prudent and expressed his desire to wait to make a decision until an investigation into the attack can be performed by inspectors from the Organization to Prohibit Chemical Weapons.

Such an investigation, he said, could begin within a week, if the Syrian regime will give authorization for the experts to gather data and presumably samples at the attack site.

Among the possible responses being considered by the Pentagon is the option to bombard eight potential Syrian regime targets, including two airbases, a research center and a presumed chemical weapons manufacturing facility, CNBC reported, citing an anonymous source.