U.S. concerned about triggering wider war as it weighs strike on Syria

Randolph Lopez
April 13, 2018

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis signaled Thursday that the US was prepared to wait for definitive proof that Syria carried out a chemical attack before launching an attack, but stressed the moral imperative for a USA response.

Earlier Thursday, Trump softened his rhetoric.

Mattis declined to speculate about the possibility that Russian Federation would respond militarily to any USA strikes on Syria, but he said he was concerned about "how do we keep this from escalating out of control, if you get my drift on that". "So the recognition of that means at times you are going to see contrary impulses", Mattis told lawmakers.

Mattis strongly condemned the alleged poisoning of a former Russian spy and his daughter by a nerve agent in England and the reported chemical attack on Syrian civilians as affronts to civilization.

"On a strategic level, it's how do we keep this from escalating out of control", he said.

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The president also seemed to suggest that a decision about military action has not been made, telling reporters Thursday morning, "We're having a meeting today on Syria and we're having a number of meetings today, we'll see happens", said Mr. Trump, adding, "We're looking very, very seriously, very closely at that situation and we'll see happens folks, we'll see what happens, it's too bad the world puts us in a position like that". However, there have been "contrary impulses", he said, such as last year's US missile strikes in Syria in response to a chemical attack and now recent discussions for another strike for the same reason. "It's got to end and our strategy remains the same as a year ago, to drive this to a UN-brokered peace, but at the same time keep our foot on the neck of ISIS until we suffocate it".

Later in the morning, the president said a decision on Syria will be made "fairly soon". "That's where we're at right now", Mattis told the committee. Mattis said US troops in the country are at risk given the brutal tactics of Assad's regime. "Our strategy is to engage by, with and through allies in all things we do". "We have the proof that chemical weapons - at least chlorine gas - were used by Assad's regime", Macron told France's TF1 television.

Mattis said the United States has yet to confirm details of the attack through global investigators.

The release says the U.S. Department of Treasury Office of Foreign Assets Control has blocked the airline for transporting weapons and ammunition to Syria in conjunction with Hezbollah, a terrorist organization, and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps. A joint military operation, possibly with France rather than the U.S.in the lead, could send a message of worldwide unity about enforcing the prohibitions on chemical weapons and counter Syria's political and military support from Russian Federation and Iran. The U.S. deficit is slated to reach $1 trillion by 2020.

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