Mattis says U.S. strikes directed at Assad regime

Gen. Dunford on Syria Airstrikes: We Did Not Coordinate With Russians or Pre-Notify Them

Gen. Dunford on Syria Airstrikes: We Did Not Coordinate With Russians or Pre-Notify Them

Mattis briefed reporters on the Pentagon Friday an hour after President Donald Trump launched the strike.

The U.S. military targeted a research center, a storage facility that is believed to have a stockpile of chemical weapons and a command post in Syria, the Pentagon said late Friday night.

Safety Secretary Jim Mattis says navy strikes in Syria are "directed on the Syrian regime" they often have "gone to good lengths to stay away from civilians and worldwide casualties".

Macron said France has proof that the Syrian government launched chlorine gas attacks and said France would not tolerate "regimes that think everything is permitted".

President Donald Trump is reiterating his call to have other nations take on more of the burden in Syria. He talked about the three nations have "marshaled their righteous vitality".

Syrian television reported that Syria's air defenses, which are substantial, have responded to the attack.

But officials also noted it may be hard to extricate the Trump administration from military action, given the president's Twitter post a day earlier that US missiles "will be coming, nice and new and 'smart'".

On Thursday, Trump added a point on Twitter that he "never said when an attack on Syria would take place" but it "could be very soon or not so soon at all!".

Although Mattis noted that military action carried risks, he also emphasised that Syrian use of chemical weapons should not be tolerated.

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The Defense Secretary went on to explain that Trump decided on the strike because the country had a "vital national interest" in stopping a potential catastrophe in Syria and deterring the use of chemical weapons. Trump chastised Syria's two main allies, Russia and Iran, for their roles in supporting "murderous dictators", and noted that Russian President Vladimir Putin had guaranteed a 2013 global agreement for Assad to get rid of all of his chemical weapons.

Trump has signaled in recent weeks that, despite advice from his national security team, he wanted to accelerate the timetable of the withdrawal of American forces.

At the House hearing, Democrat representative Tulsi Gabbard disputed Trump's legal authority to act without congressional authority and suggested a USA strike would lead to war with Russian Federation.

Mattis and Dunford acknowledged the strike was created to degrade Syria's chemical weapons capability without killing civilians or the many foreign fighters in Syria's multi-sided civil war, particularly those from Russian Federation. He says a "combined operation" with France and the United Kingdom is underway.

Following the strike, reports of a retaliatory actions emerged.

Mattis and Dunford also made clear the strikes had ended for the time being. "And of course the powers that have signed the chemical weapons prohibition have every reason to challenge Assad should he choose to violate that".

The ambassador said that Russian specialists went to Douma to inspect the situation, but could not find any evidence of a chemical attack: "Locals were interviewed about the cessation of resistance to the fighters".

U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Joseph Dunford said there was no coordination with Russians and "nor did we pre-notify them".

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