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US President Donald Trump pondering missile attack on Syria

16 April 2018

US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis says he believes there was a chemical attack in Syria and that the United States is looking for the evidence.

Japan plans to avoid expressing direct support for actual US military action against Syria, in an attempt to avoid damaging negotiations with Russian Federation over a decades-long territorial row, government sources said Thursday.

Trump has claimed that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's administration has used chemical weapons. In another tweet on Thursday, Trump wrote that an attack on Syria "could be very soon or not so soon at all!"

A joint military operation, possibly with France rather than the the lead, could send a message of worldwide unity about enforcing the prohibitions on chemical weapons and counter Syria's political and military support from Russian Federation and Iran.

At the House hearing, Democrats grilled Mattis on the wisdom and legality of Trump ordering an attack on Syria without explicit authorization from Congress. Mattis argued it would be justified as an act of self-defense, with 2,000 USA ground troops in Syria; he insisted he could not talk about military plans because an attack "is not yet in the offing".

Syrian opposition activists and rescuers said poison gas was used on the rebel-held town near the capital, an allegation strongly denied by the Assad government.

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"China always insists on a peaceful settlement of disputes, opposes usage or threats to use military force in worldwide relations, and always advocates handling issues in accordance with the UN Charter", said the spokesman.

Macron doesn't need parliamentary permission to launch an operation.

"The chemical weapons attack that took place on Saturday in Douma in Syria was a shocking and barbaric act", May told reporters on Wednesday. "Not to react is to prove to the rest of the world that what we say does not matter".

But the pinpoint strike did not deter Assad and USA officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, have since investigated as many as 10 suspected chemical attacks.

Asked about the risks of US military retaliation, Mattis cited two concerns, starting with avoiding civilian casualties.

Corbyn has said any action in Syria should be put to a parliamentary vote.

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Japan will only support U.S. President Donald Trump's "resolve" to prevent any further use of chemical weapons in Syria, the sources said.

But British involvement in further military intervention is controversial at home, in a country still haunted by its role in the US-led invasion of Iraq.

Post-World War II Germany typically has been reluctant to engage in military action, and parliamentary approval is required for any military missions overseas.

But they backed action in Iraq the following year, and again in Syria in 2015, strictly limiting strikes to Islamic State (IS) group targets.

In Syria, French warplanes carried out 23 sorties in late March and early April but fired no strikes, as part of support for Syrian opposition forces fighting in the last pockets of IS control.

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US President Donald Trump pondering missile attack on Syria