Trump puts off decision on Syria strikes

2018-04-13 17:39
President Donald Trump (AP File)

President Donald Trump (AP File)

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President Donald Trump has emerged from a meeting with his national security team without a "final decision" on how to respond to a suspected chemical weapons attack in Syria.

White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders says Trump held a meeting on Thursday afternoon with his team to discuss the situation.

But she says, "No final decision has been made."

Sanders adds that US officials are "continuing to assess intelligence" and are "engaged in conversations with our partners and allies".

Trump is slated to speak with French President Emmanuel Macron and British Prime Minister Theresa May on Thursday evening.

The Kremlin spokesperson is warning the US and its allies against any steps that could destabilise the situation in Syria.

Asked about possible US strikes on Syria, President Vladimir Putin's spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said on Thursday that "it's necessary to avoid any steps that may fuel tensions in Syria". He added that it would have an "utterly destructive impact on the Syrian settlement".

Peskov wouldn't say if Moscow could use a Russia-US military hotline to avoid casualties in a case of a US blow, saying only that "the hotline exists and has remained active".

President Donald Trump said on Thursday that an attack on Syria could take place "very soon or not so soon at all", arguing he had never signalled the timing of retaliation for a suspected chemical weapons attack that he had suggested was imminent a day earlier.

The president made his latest statement in a tweet on Thursday morning.

Trump on Wednesday had warned Russia to "get ready" for a missile attack on its ally Syria. But on Thursday, Trump tweeted: "Never said when an attack on Syria would take place."

At stake in Syria is the potential for confrontation, if not outright conflict, between the US and Russia, former Cold War foes whose relations have deteriorated in recent years over Moscow's intervention in Ukraine, its interference in the 2016 US presidential election and, most recently, its support for Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Read more on:    syria

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