Trump vows quick, forceful action

WASHINGTON/UNITED NATIONS – US President Donald Trump on Monday promised quick, forceful action in response to a deadly suspected chemical weapons attack in Syria, appearing to suggest a potential military response.

Speaking at a meeting with military leaders and national security advisers, Mr Trump said he would make a decision “very shortly thereafter” on a response, adding that the United States had “a lot of options militarily” on Syria.

“But we can’t let atrocities like we all witnessed … we can’t let that happen in our world … especially when we’re able to because of the power of the United States, the power of our country, we’re able to stop it.”

The suspected chemical weapons attack late on Saturday killed at least 60 people, with more than 1000 injured in several sites in Douma, a city near the capital, Damascus, according to a Syrian aid organisation.

Initial US assessments have so far been unable to determine conclusively what materials were used in the attack and could not say with certainty that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government forces were behind it.

Mr Trump said, however, that Washington was “getting more clarity” on who was responsible for the attack.

US officials told Reuters that Washington was weighing a multinational military response. For the second time in less than 24 hours, Mr Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron spoke by phone to co-ordinate their response, the White House said.

Asked at a Cabinet meeting earlier on Monday if Russian President Vladimir Putin bore any responsibility for the attack, Mr Trump said: “He may, yeah, he may. And if he does, it’s going to be very tough, very tough.”