A U.S. Navy destroyer, the USS Donald Cook, is now situated off the coast of Syria with 60 Tomahawk cruise missiles on board, CNN Turk has reported.
CNN Turk also reported that the destroyer was buzzed by Russian planes at least four times, but the Pentagon has denied those reports.
US Navy source told @dcexaminer : ships armed with Tomahawk missiles in the region, the USS Donald Cook, a guided-missile destroyer that has just completed a port call in Cyprus.
— Seth Frantzman (@sfrantzman) April 9, 2018
The news comes just one day after Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said 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 chemical weapons attacks are suspected to have have killed dozens of children and families near Damascus in Syria.
A Navy source confirmed to the Washington Examiner that the guided-missile destroyer completed a port call in Cyprus and “got underway in the eastern Mediterranean within range of Syria Monday.”
The Pentagon said the move was planned in advance, and it also denied that Russian planes had buzzed the USS Donald Cook, CNN Turk reported.
According to CNN Turk, as translated:
The Pentagon officials, however, declared that the partition of the gulf was planned in advance and that it was not directly related to possible intervention in Syria. It was alleged that Russian aircraft abused the ship 4 times with low flights; The Pentagon denied this claim. It was emphasized that such an event did not happen.
President Donald Trump on Monday said to expect “major decisions” on Syria within the coming days.
“We are studying that situation extremely closely,” Trump said. “We are meeting with our military and everyone else that will be making some major decisions over the next 24 to 48 hours.”
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 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.”
Russia recently said reports of the chemical attacks are untrue and “bogus.”
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.
President 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.