The US has not ruled out a direct military action against the Assad government, US Defense Secretary James Mattis said at a photo-taking session in the Pentagon before a meeting with the emir of Qatar on April 9.
Mattis said the administration of President Donald Trump is consulting with allies in Europe, the Middle East and elsewhere.
“I don’t rule out anything right now,” the defense secretary said responding to a question about a possible miltiary action against Syria.
“The first thing we have to look at is why are chemical weapons still being used at all when Russia was the framework guarantor of removing all chemical weapons, and so working with our allies and partners from NATO to Qatar and elsewhere we are going to address this issue,” he continued.
On April 7, pro-militant sources claimed that Syrian government forces had conducted a chemical attack in the district of Douma of the Damascus subrub of Eastern Ghouta. By April 8, the story had reached the maisntream media and the number of alleged casualties in the incident, according to the same pro-militant sources, had grown to 50-70 killed.
On April 8, despite a lack of any hard-rock evidence behind the reports, President Donald Trump threatened Syria and its two closest allies, Russia and Iran, with a “big price to pay” and slammed Assad as an “animal” on Twitter.
Early on April 9, the Israeli Air Force conducted a missile strike on the T4 airbase in Syria allegedly targeting Iranian forces deployed there.
Russia and Syria rejected the allegations of chemical attack in Douma. Moscow described the incident as a clear provocation.