It was an atrocious attack.
Donald Trump said during a Cabinet meeting with reporters that, “If it’s Russian Federation, if it’s Syria, if it’s Iran, if it’s all of them together, we’ll figure it out”.
Nikki Haley addresses an emergency United Nations Security Council meeting in response to a suspected chemical weapons attack in Syria at United Nations headquarters in New York, April 9, 2018.
Trump has now cancelled this week’s planned trip to Latin America “to oversee the American response to Syria and to monitor developments around the world”, according to White House press secretary Sarah Sanders.
In a series of blistering tweets on Sunday, Trump warned Russia, Iran and Syria of a “big price to pay” following the attack, slamming Syrian President Bashar al-Assad as an “animal”. While activist and medical organizations such as the White Helmets and the Syrian American Medical Society have reported more than 40 deaths and hundreds of injuries linked to the attack, there has been no independent verification.
“The UN still has nobody that can actually provide accountability for chemical attacks”, he added.
The OPCW, however, does not have a mandate to identify those responsible for chemical attacks, a task that the United States wants to confer to its proposed panel.
The Syrian government, along with ally Russian Federation, has denied launching a chemical attack on civilians and invited global watchdogs to Douma to investigate.
Those reports could not be independently verified because of a government blockade around the town.
Russian Federation on Tuesday vetoed a US-drafted United Nations Security Council resolution that would have set up an investigation into chemical weapons use in Syria following an alleged toxic gas attack in rebel-held Douma.
At a photo-taking session in the Pentagon on Monday, Mattis said “the first thing” to consider in how to respond was why chemical weapons are “still being used at all”.
Russian Federation also asked the council to vote on a second new draft resolution on Tuesday that would specifically support sending investigators from the global chemical weapons watchdog to the site of an alleged deadly attack last Saturday. “As bad as the news is around the world, you just don’t see those images”, Trump told those assembled in the cabinet room, including his new national security adviser, John Bolton, who was starting his first day on the job. The result is expected to be a more aggressive response than a year ago when the U.S. Navy unilaterally launched a salvo of 59 cruise missile attack against a remote Syrian airbase. The US retaliated three days later by launching 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles at a Syrian airbase allegedly used to carry out the attack.
Trump also discussed the situation in Syria with French President Emmanuel Macron later Monday, with both leaders expressing a desire for a “firm response”.
Images of the aftermath of what has been claimed by medical aid groups operating in Douma as a chemical attack on the besieged rebel-held Syrian town can not fail to horrify.
One US official told CNN that the White House will most likely coordinate with France on a potential response, as there are concerns British Prime Minister Theresa May wouldn’t receive approval from the UK Parliament for strikes. During the meeting, Haley, as well other members of the UNSC, such as the United Kingdom and France, again pinned the blame for the alleged incident on Damascus, accusing Moscow of “shielding” Syria’s President Bashar Assad.