Trump administration officials consulted with global allies Tuesday on a possible joint military response to Syria’s alleged poison gas attack, as President Donald Trump canceled a foreign trip in order to manage a crisis that is testing his vow to stand up to Syrian President Bashar Assad.
Trump spoke with other world leaders, and other US officials said the US, France and Britain were in extensive consultations about launching a military strike as early as the end of this week. None of the three countries’ leaders had made a firm decision, according to the officials, who were not authorized to discuss military planning by name.
A joint military operation, possibly with France rather than the US in the lead, could send a message of international unity about enforcing the prohibitions on chemical weapons and counter Syria’s political and military support from Russia and Iran.
President Emmanuel Macron said France, the US and Britain will decide how to respond in the coming days. He called for a “strong and joint response” to the attack in the Syrian town of Douma on Saturday, which Syrian activists and rescuers say killed 40 people. The Syrian government denies responsibility.
US officials support military strike
US officials have sharpened their tone following the chemical attack in Syria’s Douma as US Intelligence and US State Department officials have been seeking evidence from organizations operating on the ground in Syria, by asking doctors to describe the symptoms of those injured in the latest attack.
Several sources confirmed to Al Arabiya that Trump’s aides at the US National Security Council are encouraging him to launch a military strike against the Syrian regime.
Some officials went as far as asking doctors on the ground to place patients on phone cameras to directly inspect their condition.
The information that US experts and officials collected so far led them to the conclusion that chemical weapons were indeed used. A State Department official told Al Arabiya that the “symptoms of victims according to experts specialized in medicine and according to published images and videos correspond to the damages caused by suffocation substances and nerve materials of some kind.”
The Syrian-American Medical Society said more than 500 people were brought to medical centers in Douma, in the Eastern Ghouta region near Damascus, with symptoms “indicative of exposure to a chemical agent.”
They stated that this included breathing difficulties, mouth foaming, bluish skin, corneal burns and “the emission of a chlorine-like odor”.
Trump’s aides now consider Iran and Russia fully responsible for the Assad regime’s actions and are considering placing sanctions on the Syrian regime as well as further sanctions on Iran and Russia.
A US State Department official told Al Arabiya that the US administration is calling on the international community to “hold those behind the attack and their sponsors accountable for the use of these terrible weapons.”
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