Trump condemns 'heinous' gas attack in Syria, Mattis faults Russian Federation

Trump Wants to Make 'Major Decisions' on Syria in Next '24-48 Hours'

Trump Wants to Make 'Major Decisions' on Syria in Next '24-48 Hours'

James Mattis, the U.S. Defense Secretary, said that they are ready to the provide military options for Syria, as AFP reported.

"We have not yet made any decision to launch military attacks into Syria", Mattis told lawmakers on the House Armed Services committee.

Syria and Russian Federation have both denied the accusations, and the global chemical weapons watchdog said its team would begin its investigation on Saturday.

Speaking at a House Armed Services Committee hearing, Mattis made the comments as justification for last year's US missile strikes on Syria but did not suggest what military action the administration might take in Syria in the coming days. As for whether or not the USA military is ready for action in Syria, he said: "We stand ready to provide military options if they're appropriate, as the President determines".

British Prime Minister Theresa May's Cabinet on Thursday pledged to "take action" in response to the chemical attack, noting in a statement that members agreed that "it was vital that the use of chemical weapons did not go unchallenged".

The White Helmets, a civil defense agency, blamed the Assad regime for a chemical attack Saturday night in the city of Douma in Eastern Ghouta, which it said killed 78 civilians and injured hundreds of others.

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"President Trump just finished a meeting with his National Security team to discuss the situation in Syria". Trump said Thursday on Twitter.

"As each day goes by - as you know, it is a non-persistent gas - so it becomes more and more hard to confirm it".

"We're trying to stop the murder of innocent people".

Asked whether he ruled out launching retaliatory United States airstrikes in Syria, Mattis said, "I don't rule out anything right now". Mattis cited protection of the 2000 or so USA troops in Syria helping to fight ISIS.

The Pentagon is now working under war powers granted in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attacks, even though operations across the Middle East have morphed broadly since those early days of seeking to destroy Al-Qaeda. A collapse of the Assad regime could lead to a political vacuum in Syria and a resurgence of the Islamic State.

"This is a complex area, I'll be the first to admit it", Mattis said.