US Still Assessing Intel on Alleged Douma Chemical Attack - Mattis

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Despite Defense Secretary James Mattis admitting the U.S. doesn't yet have evidence on an alleged Syrian chemical weapons attack, he and other USA officials indicate the United States is readying to attack Syria over it. President Trump has publicly announced there will be missiles fired, and USA allies are also indicating they'll be involved. He continued that decisions will be "made fairly soon".

The president of France said flatly that "we have proof that last week chemical weapons, at least chlorine, were used by the regime of Bashar al-Assad".

Any U.S. military strikes against Syria raise the possibility of a wider conflict with Russian Federation, which has backed the Syrian regime militarily and has troops and private contractors on the ground. "We're trying to stop the murder of innocent people, but on a strategic level it's how do we keep this from escalating out of control, if, if you get my drift on that".

The retired four-star general added that the Pentagon would notify Congress before any planned strike on Syria.

On Monday, the Russian Defense Ministry claimed that Israel bombed a Syrian military base in response to the chemical attacks. May says the need to attack is too "urgent" to ask parliament.

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On the complicated nature of the fight in Syria, Mattis said "at times you're going to see contrary impulses", after Rep. Joe Courtney, a Connecticut Democrat, read out some of President Donald Trump's tweets this week, first vowing to strike Syria, then suggesting the strikes may not be soon. That was a marked change from Monday when a decision seemed imminent.

But the White House released a statement following the NSC meeting that appeared to confirm Mattis's earlier comments.

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.

Lawmakers quizzed Mattis on what he made of President Donald Trump's muddled messaging over Syria.

"I believe there was a chemical attack and we are looking for the actual evidence", Mattis told a hearing of the House Armed Services Committee, adding that he wants inspectors in Syria "probably within the week". "The President will speak with President Macron and Prime Minister May this evening", said press secretary Sarah Huckabeee Sanders.