SEVERE WX : Winter Weather Advisory View Alerts

AP sources: US, France and UK discuss gas attack response

Trump administration officials have consulted with global allies on a possible joint military response to Syria’s alleged poison gas attack.

Posted: Apr 11, 2018 1:30 PM

WASHINGTON (AP) - Trump administration officials have consulted with global allies on a possible joint military response to Syria’s alleged poison gas attack, as President Donald Trump canceled a foreign trip in order to manage a crisis that is testing his vow to stand up to Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Trump spoke with other world leaders, and other U.S. officials said the U.S., France and Britain were in extensive consultations about launching a military strike as early as the end of this week. None of the three countries’ leaders had made a firm decision, according to the officials, who were not authorized to discuss military planning by name.

A joint military operation, possibly with France rather than the U.S. in the lead, could send a message of international unity about enforcing the prohibitions on chemical weapons and counter Syria’s political and military support from Russia and Iran.

President Emmanuel Macron said France, the U.S. and Britain will decide how to respond in the coming days. He called for a “strong and joint response” to the attack in the Syrian town of Douma on Saturday, which Syrian activists and rescuers say killed 40 people. The Syrian government denies responsibility.

The French president does not need parliamentary permission to launch a military operation. France is already involved in the U.S.-led coalition created in 2014 to fight the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq. Multiple IS attacks have targeted French soil, including one last month.

Trump suggested Monday he had little doubt that Syrian government forces were to blame for what he said was a chemical attack, but neither he nor other administration officials have produced hard evidence. Officials suggested such evidence was lacking, or at least not yet at hand. This is in contrast to an incident one year ago in which U.S. intelligence agencies had video and other evidence of certain aspects of the actual attack, which involved the use of Sarin gas. Trump responded by launching Navy cruise missiles at a Syrian airfield.

One official said the U.S., France and Britain were considering military options that would be more extensive than the punitive, one-day strike last April. That strike did not appear to have had the desired effect of deterring Assad from further use of chemical agents. So the three countries are discussing a range of options, including preventing Assad from conducting future attacks by striking military capabilities involved in carrying out such attack, the official said.

Asked whether France would take military action, Macron said his country will continue discussing technical and strategic information with U.S. and British allies and “in the coming days we will announce our decision.” He said any action would “target chemical weapons” stocks. Under a 2013 agreement for which Russia was a guarantor, Syria was to have eliminated all its chemical weapons, but it has used chlorine and perhaps other chemicals since then.

Trump spoke by phone with British Prime Minister Theresa May. A British government statement said the two agreed the attack in Syria was “utterly reprehensible” and that the international community must respond “to uphold the worldwide prohibition on the use of chemical weapons.” Trump met at the White House with the emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, who told reporters that he and Trump “see eye to eye” on the Syria problem.

“We cannot tolerate with a war criminal,” the emir said, adding, “This matter should end immediately.” Qatar hosts the United States’ main air operations center for the Middle East, which would coordinate any American air attack in Syria.

A watchdog agency, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, announced that it will send “shortly” a fact-finding mission to Douma, after receiving a request from the Syrian government and its Russian backers to investigate the allegations. It was not immediately clear whether that visit would delay or avert U.S. or allied military action.

The Russian military, which has troops in Syria, said on Monday that its officers had visited the site of the alleged attack and found no evidence to back up reports of poison gas being used.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis canceled plans to travel to California this week, indicating his focus on Syria. He was expected at a White House meeting Wednesday for further consultations on Syria.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that Trump will not attend the 8th Summit of the Americas in Lima, Peru, or travel to Bogota, Colombia, as planned. She said he will stay home to “oversee the American response to Syria and to monitor developments around the world.”

The president’s new national security adviser, John Bolton, urged Trump to skip the trip, an official said. This reflects a view in the White House that deeper Russian and Iranian involvement in Syria have complicated calculations about a response to any U.S. military attack, according to the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations. Moscow has cautioned the U.S. not to launch a military attack.

Amid the tough talk from the White House, the U.S. military appeared to be in position to carry out any attack order. A Navy destroyer, the USS Donald Cook, got underway in the eastern Mediterranean on Monday after completing a port call in Cyprus. The guided missile destroyer is armed with Tomahawk cruise missiles, the weapon of choice in a U.S. attack one year ago on an airfield in Syria following an alleged sarin gas attack on civilians.

Also, the Navy said the USS Harry S. Truman aircraft carrier and its strike group will depart Norfolk, Virginia, on Wednesday for a regularly scheduled deployment to Europe. The Navy does not currently have a carrier in the Persian Gulf.

Terre Haute
Mostly Cloudy
33° wxIcon
Hi: 40° Lo: 29°
Feels Like: 33°
Robinson
Cloudy
32° wxIcon
Hi: 41° Lo: 29°
Feels Like: 32°
Indianapolis/Eagle Creek
Cloudy
29° wxIcon
Hi: 35° Lo: 28°
Feels Like: 22°
Paris
Partly Cloudy
28° wxIcon
Hi: 38° Lo: 28°
Feels Like: 28°
Mattoon/Charleston
Mostly Cloudy
30° wxIcon
Hi: 39° Lo: 29°
Feels Like: 24°
Terre Haute
Cloudy
33° wxIcon
Hi: 39° Lo: 28°
Feels Like: 33°
Terre Haute
Mostly Cloudy
33° wxIcon
Hi: 40° Lo: 29°
Feels Like: 33°
Snow Possible
WTHI Planner
WTHI Temps
WTHI Radar

WTHI Events

 

Illinois Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 7 p.m. CT)

Cases: 1068829

Reported Deaths: 20050
CountyCasesDeaths
Cook4330899005
DuPage687371145
Will57945867
Lake53068884
Kane45704675
Winnebago26161407
Madison24144462
St. Clair22065424
McHenry21498248
Champaign1534996
Peoria14905239
Sangamon14469234
McLean13143159
Tazewell11860242
Rock Island11834302
Kankakee11431179
Kendall961678
LaSalle9392247
Macon8775179
Vermilion7447112
DeKalb741592
Adams7304117
Williamson6146116
Boone552377
Whiteside5243173
Clinton498985
Coles469080
Ogle458271
Knox4577140
Grundy433954
Effingham429868
Jackson415667
Henry399676
Marion3958111
Franklin382068
Macoupin381094
Randolph370468
Livingston362466
Monroe354570
Stephenson349974
Jefferson3409104
Morgan324189
Woodford317266
Logan307556
Montgomery303141
Lee302472
Bureau299684
Christian297473
Fayette289853
Perry266360
Iroquois257756
Fulton254449
Jersey219456
Lawrence216730
McDonough213251
Saline201453
Douglas198633
Union197332
Shelby196135
Crawford175334
Cass174731
Bond173124
Warren158043
Pike153946
Richland152744
Wayne150343
Jo Daviess148124
Hancock146933
Clark146529
Washington144325
Edgar142753
Carroll142333
Ford138049
Moultrie136428
White132530
Clay130939
Greene125242
Johnson121115
Mercer116729
Piatt116716
Wabash116414
Mason116240
De Witt113527
Cumberland107527
Jasper103816
Massac101430
Menard86810
Hamilton71416
Marshall66213
Schuyler61716
Pulaski6093
Brown60711
Stark49420
Edwards4609
Henderson45116
Calhoun4374
Alexander3887
Gallatin3854
Scott3731
Putnam3452
Hardin3018
Pope2432
Unassigned1100
Out of IL330

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 8 p.m. ET)

Cases: 590211

Reported Deaths: 9310
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion815581297
Lake44306666
Allen31919541
Hamilton28371304
St. Joseph26766371
Elkhart24098341
Vanderburgh18643213
Tippecanoe17422121
Johnson14496284
Porter14399160
Hendricks13870241
Madison10561212
Vigo10483171
Clark10240130
Monroe9076108
Delaware8836132
LaPorte8771155
Howard7897138
Kosciusko787277
Warrick643890
Hancock638797
Bartholomew626694
Floyd6150105
Wayne5933157
Grant5818110
Dubois544372
Boone534367
Morgan516291
Marshall494184
Henry493664
Cass471760
Noble460557
Dearborn458444
Jackson414745
Shelby402179
Lawrence380575
Clinton364539
Gibson356556
DeKalb337363
Montgomery334851
Harrison328542
Knox327839
Miami309843
Steuben306340
Adams295235
Whitley294125
Wabash293045
Ripley292345
Putnam284847
Huntington283557
Jasper282433
White267538
Daviess261672
Jefferson250738
Fayette242348
Decatur242182
Greene233360
Posey232326
Wells229447
LaGrange224161
Clay217932
Scott216937
Randolph208340
Jennings192535
Sullivan189031
Spencer181917
Fountain179725
Washington177118
Starke171341
Jay162821
Owen159537
Fulton159229
Carroll152115
Orange151433
Rush149918
Perry147227
Vermillion144933
Franklin143433
Parke12908
Tipton128232
Pike113625
Blackford107522
Pulaski95237
Newton89421
Brown85530
Benton84310
Crawford7579
Martin70013
Warren6587
Switzerland6205
Union6113
Ohio4677
Unassigned0374