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Mattis ‘won’t rule out’ airstrikes against Syria after gas attacks on children and families

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis meets with Norwegian Minister of Defense Frank Bakke-Jensen at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., Mar. 20, 2018. (DoD photo by U.S. Army Sgt. Amber I. Smith)
April 09, 2018

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said Monday he won’t “rule out anything right now” when it comes to launching airstrikes against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in response to the suspected chemical weapons attacks on civilians over the weekend.

“The first thing we have to look at is why chemical weapons are still being used at all,” Mattis told reporters. “Russia was the framework guarantor of removing all the chemical weapons, and so working with our allies and partners, from NATO to Qatar and elsewhere, we are going to address this issue.”

The chemical weapons attacks are suspected to have have killed dozens of children and families near Damascus in Syria.

At least 40 people are reported dead in Douma, and it was reported that many of the people were “choking and foaming at the mouth,” the Washington Post reported.

Russia recently said reports of the chemical attacks are untrue and “bogus,” Reuters first reported.

On Monday, the Russian Defense Ministry claimed that Israel bombed a Syrian military base in response to the chemical attacks. The airstrikes killed 14 people, including fighters from Iran, according to a conflict monitoring group.

U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley said the U.S. and eight other member nations have called for an emergency U.N. Security Council meeting on Monday “in reference to the horrible chemical weapons attack on innocent civilians in Syria.”

President Donald Trump tweeted about the chemical attack on Sunday, and also about Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, warning of a big price to pay for the attack.

“Many dead, including women and children, in mindless CHEMICAL attack in Syria,” Trump tweeted on Saturday.
Area of atrocity is in lockdown and encircled by Syrian Army, making it completely inaccessible to outside world. President Putin, Russia and Iran are responsible for backing Animal Assad.”

“Big price to pay,” he added. “Open area immediately for medical help and verification. Another humanitarian disaster for no reason whatsoever. SICK!”

The attacks come during an uneasy time in Syria, and also as President Trump carefully navigates exactly what to do in the country, where there are approximately 2,000 U.S. troops currently stationed.