WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump has not yet made his “final decision” on how to respond to an alleged chemical weapons attack in Syria, the White House said Thursday after he met with his top national security advisors.
Trump was to confer with French President Emmanuel Macron and British Prime Minister Theresa May later in the day on the action the allies might take, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said.
“President Trump just finished a meeting with his National Security team to discuss the situation in Syria. No final decision has been made,” Sanders said.
“We are continuing to assess intelligence and are engaged in conversations with our partners and allies. The President will speak with President Macron and Prime Minister May this evening.”
The White House announcement came after May held an emergency cabinet meeting on the situation in Syria, where dozens of people were killed last weekend in a suspected toxic gas attack on Douma, the largest town in a former rebel stronghold outside Damascus.
Downing Street said May’s top ministers had agreed on the “need to take action,” despite polls showing the British public remains wary of military intervention.
Moscow has warned against any escalation that could trigger a conflict between the United States and Russia, and has called for an emergency UN Security Council meeting on Friday.
In Washington, Trump said earlier Thursday that a decision would come “fairly soon,” though he equivocated in his tweets on the timing of any military strikes.
A French frigate, British Royal Navy submarines laden with cruise missiles and the USS Donald Cook, an American destroyer equipped with Tomahawk land attack missiles, have all moved into range of Syria’s coast.
US officials have refused to rule out direct military engagement with Russia, with the White House saying “all options are on the table.”
But a special hotline for the US and Russian militaries to communicate about operations in Syria is active and being used by both sides, Moscow said Thursday. – AFP