UNITED STATES (OBSERVATORY) – US President Donald Trump and national security aides on Thursday discussed US options on Syria, where he threatened to launch missile strikes in response to a suspected poison gas attack, while a Russian envoy expressed fears of a wider conflict between Washington and Moscow.
Fears of a confrontation between Russia and the West have grown since Trump said on Wednesday the missiles were “coming” in response to the alleged chemical weapons attack on April 7 and criticized Moscow for backing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
“I never said when the attack on Syria would happen,” Trump said in a tweeter on Twitter Thursday morning. It may be very close and may not be so. ”
The White House said in a statement that Trump met with his national security team on the situation in Syria on Thursday “and no final decision has been taken.”
“We continue to evaluate information and talk to partners and allies,” he said in a statement.
This does not necessarily mean that Hamas Trump for the idea of military action began to calm down, especially in light of the great risks in Syria. US officials said Washington was still assessing the information and coordinating with allies.
The White House said Trump spoke to British Prime Minister Theresa May on Thursday and the two leaders spoke of “the need for a joint response to Syria’s use of chemical weapons.”
The May office said they agreed on the need to deter Assad’s government from launching more attacks of this kind.
Trump is scheduled to speak to French President Emmanuel Macron, who said France had evidence that the Syrian government carried out the attack near Damascus, which aid groups said had killed dozens and would decide to respond once all necessary information had been collected.
“We have evidence that last week (Saturday) … saw the use of chemical weapons, at least chlorine, and that it was used by President Bashar al-Assad,” McCron said, without giving details of the evidence.
In the meantime, two US officials familiar with the examination of samples of the Douma and the symptoms appeared to the victims that preliminary indications that a mixture of chlorine gas prepared for use as a weapon and sarin gas used in the attack appear to be true. But officials added that US intelligence agencies had not finished their assessment or reached a final conclusion.
Russia said it deployed military police in Duma on Thursday after Syrian government forces took control of the city.
“They are the ones who will guarantee the law and order in the city,” the Russian news agency quoted the Defense Ministry as saying.
There have been signs of a global effort to prevent direct confrontation between Russia and the West. The Kremlin said a communications channel with the United States to avoid an accidental collision between the two countries over Syria was still in use.
– War fears –
Russia’s ambassador to the United Nations, Vassili Nippinzia, urged the United States and its allies on Thursday to refrain from military action in Syria and said he could not rule out a war between Washington and Moscow.
“The top priority is to avoid the risk of war,” he told reporters. “I hope there is no point of no return.”
The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) said a team of fact-finding experts was on its way to Syria and would begin work there on Saturday.
It was not clear whether Trump and the US allies would wait for the results of the investigation before deciding on a possible strike.
In Washington, Defense Secretary James Matisse told Congress he believed a chemical attack had taken place in Syria but later added that the United States had not taken any decision to launch a military operation in Syria. He also explained that he was studying ways to avoid causing strikes to trigger a wider conflict.
“I do not want to talk about a specific attack that has not yet been decided,” he told the House Armed Services Committee. “This will be a pre-emptive decision.”
It is estimated that Moscow is deploying dozens of aircraft at the Hmeimim air base in Syria, including fighters and bombers, as well as between 10 and 15 warships and a support ship in the Mediterranean.
The Syrian and Russian forces have surface-to-air missiles on trucks as well as anti-aircraft artillery systems.
Russia, Syria and their ally Iran have said reports of a constant attack by the opposition and aid workers and accused the United States of seeking to take the offensive as an excuse to attack the Syrian government.
There were signs of a recovery in global stock markets that were tense after Trump pointed out that strikes may not be imminent.
British Prime Minister Mai has won support from senior ministers to work with the United States and France to deter the Syrian government from using chemical weapons.
The ministers called on their holidays on the occasion of the Easter holiday to discuss how to respond to what she described as a brutal attack that can not pass without a response.
The Russian news agency Interfax quoted a Russian lawmaker as saying on Thursday that Russian ships had left the Tartous naval base in Syria.
“The ships have left the base on the Mediterranean for their safety,” Vladimir Shamanov, chairman of the House Defense Committee, was quoted as saying, adding that this was a “normal procedure” when there were threats of an attack.
Any US strike would probably involve the navy, given the threat posed by Russian and Syrian air defense systems to aircraft.