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Donald Trump says decision on US response to Syria chemical attack soon

The US President says this is about humanity and it can’t be allowed to happen.

world Updated: Apr 10, 2018 00:04 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Washington, Hindustan Times
Donald Trump,Syria chemical attack,US response
File photo of US President Donald Trump. (AFP photo)

US President Donald Trump said on Monday he will announce the US response to the chemical attack in Syria within the next two days, leaving the door open for the military option and the issue of accountability.

“It was atrocious. It was horrible,” Trump told reporters before the start of a meeting of his cabinet. “This is about humanity and it can’t be allowed to happen.”

He added: “If it’s the Russians, if it’s Syria, if it’s Iran, if it’s all of them together, we’ll figure it out…To me there's not much (of) a doubt (who is behind it), but the generals will figure it out.”

Pressed by reporters on whetherRussian President Vladimir Putin bears responsibility for the chemicalattack, Trump said, “He may, yeah, he may. And if he does it’s going to be very tough, very tough.Everybody’s gonna pay a price. He will, everybody will.”

He qualified the timeline for a US response: “We'll be making that decision very quickly. Probably by the end of today. We cannot allow atrocities like that.”

Asked if military action was off the table, Trump said, “Nothing is off the table.”

Trump also said his meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un could take place in “May or early June and I think there will be great respect paid by both parties and hopefully there will be a deal on de-nuking”.

The US had hit a Syrian military air base with around 60 cruise missiles after a chemical weapons attack in 2017, a response Trump ordered and announced during a dinner with visiting Chinese president Xi Jinping.

On Sunday, Trump had responded aggressively to the latest attack, blaming “Animal Assad”, for the Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, and threatened a “big price”.

He also slammed Putin, for the first time by name, Russia and Iran, who are backing the Assad regime.

The sudden escalation on Syria comes as Trump has publicly and repeatedly vowed to pull US troops — around 2,000 — from the country, saying their main task of destroying the Islamic State is over. The US military and state department don’t agree and believe there is much remaining to be done.

But the plans include leaving behind a small contingent to hunt down remaining IS terrorists and to train local forces to secure areas liberated from the group.

First Published: Apr 10, 2018 00:04 IST