Mattis expresses caution on strike against Syria

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"So there is no practicable alternative to the use of force to degrade and deter the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime", May said. "This time, our allies and we have struck harder", he said.

President Donald Trump says he is "prepared to sustain" strikes against Syria until the use of chemical agents stops. White House press secretary Sarah Sanders also said on Wednesday the intelligence community was still assessing the evidence but said, "the President holds Syria and Russian Federation responsible for this chemical weapons attack".

The Pentagon said one of the targets was a scientific research center located in the greater Damascus area, which it described as a Syrian center for the research, development, production and testing of chemical and biological weaponry.

The last target was a military command post and chemical weapons storage facility.

Mattis briefed reporters at the Pentagon today an hour after President Donald Trump announced the strikes.

The two also expressed confidence that the US had the evidence needed to confirm the most recent chemical attack. It said a pro-Damascus "anti-terror axis" was confronting the attack, language suggesting that Assad's ally Russian Federation may be helping to fend off the assault. "Reliable intelligence indicates that Syrian military officials coordinated what appears to be the use of chlorine in Duma on April 7".

"We specifically identified these targets to mitigate the risk of Russian forces being involved", Dunford told reporters, adding the USA military advised Russia of airspace that would be used in the strike but did not "pre-notify them".

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Following the strike, reports of a retaliatory actions emerged.

"The second priority now is for the OPCW mission to reach Damascus and Douma, and to see what's really happened", he said.

Jarrod Agen, Vice President Mike Pence's deputy chief of staff, said Pence called congressional leaders from his hotel suite in Lima, Peru, to notify them of the president's plan to address the nation about the Syrian air strikes.

"He says increased engagement from countries including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Egypt can ensure that Iran does not profit from the defeat of the Islamic State group".

Mattis said the USA was convinced that Syria used chlorine gas on its citizens, possibly even sarin gas, which has been used in the past.

Mattis told lawmakers there are "a lot of ways to respond to the violation of the chemical weapons convention - diplomatically, economically, militarily". We were not out to expand this, we were very precise and proportionate.

"Our strategy remains the same as a year ago: to drive this to a United Nations -brokered peace, but at the same time keep our foot on the neck of ISIS until we suffocate it", Mattis said.

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In addition, the U.S.

In a statement, Antoly Antonov said, "We warned that such actions will not be left without consequences".

With respect to retaliation, Gen. Dunford said he was unaware of any United States troop losses, and could neither confirm or deny Syrian reports of missiles being shot down.

Trump said he would make a decision "fairly soon" about a strike. Syrian state TV says the attack has begun on the capital, though it wasn't immediately clear what was targeted.

Speaking Thursday morning before the House Armed Services Committee, Mattis said that retaliation for the suspected chemical weapons attack had to be balanced against the threat of a wider war. "We did not coordinate targets or any planning with the Russians".

"It's got to end, and our strategy remains the same as a year ago".

At the same time, he said, the USA had no intention to expand the strike further than chemical weapons-type targets. Gen Dunford confirmed the wave of strikes had ended.

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Trump says that last Saturday, Syrian President Bashar Assad deployed chemical weapons in what was a "significant escalation in a pattern of chemical weapons use by that very bad regime".