Monday, 16 July, 2018

Pentagon holds briefing on situation in Syria after Trump announces airstrikes

Ebony Burgess | 14 April, 2018, 22:16

The world has been on high-alert for a punitive US missile strike on Syria, and Trump said in a tweet on Wednesday that Russian Federation should "get ready", missiles "will be coming".

US President Donald Trump is pushing for a broader military offensive in Syria but Defense Secretary James Mattis has resisted for fear of sparking a clash with Russian Federation, media reported citing White House officials. That meant airstrikes, possibly in tandem with France and other allies that have expressed outrage at the alleged Syrian chemical attack, could be launched within hours of a presidential decision.

"Together we have sent a clear message to Assad and his murderous lieutenants that they should not perpetrate another chemical weapons attack, for which they will be held accountable".

Asked about concerns in planning a strike on Assad's regime, Mattis cited worry over inadvertently causing civilian casualties and avoiding anything that would trigger a wider war.

He is asking that "responsible nations" join in condemning the Assad regime. He talked about the three nations have "marshaled their righteous vitality".

He said the president had Article II authority, allowing him to protect USA forces deployed to Syria.

"Earlier today President Trump directed the US Military to conduct operations in consonance with our allies to destroy the Syrian regime's chemical weapons research, development and production capabilities", Mattis said.

"The strike has been what many people here are bracing for", Doane said. But the damage was limited, and a defiant Assad returned to episodic use of chlorine and perhaps other chemicals.

War in the Middle East? Consider Small Energy Stocks
In physical oil markets, OPEC's No. 2 producer Iraq said on Monday that it will keep prices steady for its May crude supplies. The S&P 500 index showed six new 52-week highs and one new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 36 new highs and 22 new lows.

And he described the Middle East as a "troubled place".

The United States, along with assurance from France and the United Kingdom, launched a response Friday against the regime of Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad days after his government allegedly used chemical weapons on its citizens.

Trump has signaled in recent weeks that, despite advice from his national security team, he wanted to accelerate the timetable of the withdrawal of American forces.

"We're continuing to have ongoing meetings and conversations here at the White House", Sanders said.

Mattis also addressed the evidence showing that the Syrian regime had conducted the chemical weapons attack, amid allegations that it was fabricated and his own doubts expressed Thursday afternoon. "We are continuing to assess intelligence and are engaged in conversations with our partners and allies".

Trump said the strikes were in coordination with France and the United Kingdom, adding that the objective of the campaign is to "establish a strong deterrent against the production, spread and use of chemical weapons". Trump wrote in a Thursday morning tweet (Friday NZT) that an attack could happen "very soon or not so soon at all".

On Wednesday, Trump had threatened to retaliate against the Russian-backed Syrian regime for supporting its gas attacks by posting on social media that "nice, new and "smart" missiles "will be coming".

"We warned that such actions will not be left without consequences", said Anatoly Antonov, the Russian ambassador to the U.S.

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