US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told lawmakers in Congress that the US military does not have evidence that either chlorine or sarin were used in an alleged chemical attack in the Syrian town of Douma, adding that the Pentagon's only proof that such an incident occurred has come from social media and media reports.
Asked whether the USA military was ready to conduct an attack in Syria if ordered, Mattis replied, "We stand ready to provide military options if they're appropriate, as the president determined".
"As each day goes by - as you know, it is a non-persistent gas - so it becomes more and more hard to confirm it", Mattis told the lawmakers. "We're trying to get inspectors in, probably within a week".
"Some things are simply inexcusable, beyond the pale and in the worst interest of not just the chemical weapons convention but of civilisation itself", Mattis told the House Armed Services Committee.
The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, an global chemical weapons watchdog organization said Thursday that its team is en route to Syria and will begin work Saturday to investigate the attack. "It is to drive this to a United Nations brokered peace, but at the same time, keep our foot on the neck of ISIS until we suffocate it", Mattis said.
That boast came about a day after Trump tweeted for Russian Federation to "get ready", because US missiles "will be coming, nice and new and 'smart!'" Officials later said no decisions on a Syria strike had been made when the commander in chief tweeted that.
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"Now we have to make some further decisions".
"We're still assessing the intelligence, ourselves and our allies", Mattis said.
In fact, Defense Secretary James Mattis told lawmakers today that he will provide the White House with military options against the Syrian regime, but the president has not yet settled on a course of action.
"This is a complex area, I'll be the first to admit it", Mattis said.
"We have forces in the field and the use of chemical weapons in Syria is not something that we should assume that 'well, because he didn't use them on us this time, he wouldn't use them on us next time, '" Mattis told Rep. John Garamendi, D-Calif. "We're still working on this", he reiterated. "It's too bad the world puts us in a position like that". On Thursday, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons said it would have a team of investigators in Syria by Saturday.
The release says the U.S. Department of Treasury Office of Foreign Assets Control has blocked the airline for transporting weapons and ammunition to Syria in conjunction with Hezbollah, a terrorist organization, and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps. The U.S. deficit is slated to reach $1 trillion by 2020.