UK's May summons Cabinet to discuss Syria military strike

Leslie Hanson
April 15, 2018

President Donald Trump said Thursday that an attack on Syria could take place "very soon or not so soon at all", arguing he had never signaled the timing of retaliation for a suspected chemical weapons attack that he had suggested was imminent a day earlier.

The drumbeat of military action appeared to grow louder, as Russian Federation stonewalled diplomatic efforts at the United Nations and France declared "proof" that Moscow's Syrian ally carried out a deadly chemical weapons attack that killed more than 40 Syrians.

He accused Washington of putting global peace at risk and said the situation was "very dangerous".

We have to make some further decisions.

Britain's Ministry of Defense refused to comment on reports that Royal Navy submarines armed with cruise missiles have been dispatched into range of Syria.

The Cook - named after a Marine Colonel who suffered depravation and starvation as a Vietnam prisoner of war - has past experience tangling with the Russian military, having been deployed to the Black Sea during the recent crisis in Crimea.

Meanwhile, US defence secretary James Mattis has said the country's military stands ready to provide President Trump with options for striking Syria.

He said the USA military was ready to provide the President with military options, if appropriate and at the President's request. There is no reason for this, he wrote, adding that "Russia needs us to help with their economy, something that would be very easy to do, and we need all nations to work together". "I refer you to the White House to characterise the president's tweet", a Pentagon spokesman said.

He said there was a heightened "danger of escalation" because of the Russian military presence in Syria. As a private citizen in 2013, Trump was stridently opposed to military intervention against the Bashar al-Assad regime, counseling on Twitter that there is "no upside and tremendous downside" to ousting Assad.

That may prove too little, too late. Russia's ambassador to Lebanon said any missiles fired at Syria would be shot down and the launching sites targeted - a stark warning of a potential major confrontation.

The Syrian government denies responsibility.

In Paris, France's Emmanuel Macron upped the pressure on Moscow by stating he had "proof" that the Assad's regime had used chemical weapons, and vowing a response "at a time of our choosing".

But across Western capitals opposition to military action also grew. May isn't legally required to do that, though it is conventional for lawmakers to be given the chance to vote.

National security experts anxious about whether strikes would actually serve to deter Assad.

Tokyo issued a similar response in April previous year when the United States conducted a missile strike on a Syrian air base that was the alleged source of a chemical attack that killed dozens of civilians. "She has said all the indications" are that President Bashar Assad's forces were responsible, and the use of chemical weapons "cannot go unchallenged".

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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