Pentagon drawing up options for military response to Syria chemical attack
The U.S. could use its existing deconfliction channel with the Russians to avoid targets that would cause Russian casualties.
The Pentagon is drawing up options for a possible military response to Tuesday’s chemical weapons attack in Syria that killed more than 70 people, and hospitalized hundreds more.
“There are very senior level meetings underway,” said one Pentagon official, “but I have not seen a concrete plan.”
The meetings involve Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford at President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, and involve consultations with other senior commanders, including Gen. Joseph Votel, head of U.S. Central Command. The meetings are taking place amid new reports of another chemical attack in Syria.
“Options yes. We are in the business of providing options,” a senior military official said. “I would watch this one closely.”
The first official could not say if Trump had specifically ordered the options, or if the meeting constituted “prudent planning,” considering Trump’s Rose Garden statements Wednesday.
“I have that flexibility,” Trump said, “and I will tell you, it’s already happened that my attitude toward Syria and Assad has changed very much. … What happened yesterday is unacceptable to me.”
The U.S. now has a high degree of confidence that the air force of Syrian President Bashar Assad dropped a chemical weapon from an aircraft on the unsuspecting citizens of Khan Sheikhoun, in Syria’s northwest Idlib province, Pentagon officials said.
The symptoms suffered by the victims, including foaming at the mouth and asphyxiation, are consistent with exposure to sarin, a deadly nerve agent.
Pentagon planners have to take into account the presence of Russian forces and Iranian militia if they contemplate airstrikes to punish the Assad regime.Explore posts in the same categories: Assad, Department of Defense, Syria - chemical weapons, Trump and Syria, U.S. Military