By Agence France-Presse
US President Donald Trump holds Russia and Syria responsible for a suspected chemical attack that killed more than 40 people, the White House said Wednesday, refusing to rule out direct military engagement with Russia.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders slapped aside Russian suggestions that Saturday’s attack in Douma could have been faked and said Trump was still weighing military options in response.
“The intelligence provided certainly paints a different picture,” she said of the Kremlin’s theory. “The president holds Syria and Russia responsible for this chemical weapons attack”
Trump is believed to be considering standoff missile strikes against facilities related to the production and delivery of chlorine and sarin or sarin-like agents.
But many of Syria’s most sensitive military facilities are protected by Russian missile defense systems or are located at bases where Russian, Iranian and Syrian personnel cohabit.
Sanders pointedly refused to rule out the possibility of direct military engagement with Russia — not shying away from the specter of clashes between two nuclear superpowers.
“Once again, all options are on the table,” she said.
Still, despite Trump’s tweets, early Wednesday that promised “nice and new and ‘smart!'” missiles were headed for Syria, Sanders said no “final decisions have not been made on that front.”
Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, as well as CIA director Mike Pompeo, huddled at the White House on Wednesday to discuss options and game out the situation.
“The president’s national security Team met today. That meeting was chaired by the Vice President to discuss a number of options,” Sanders said.