Syria's President Bashar al-Assad warns Western action would 'further destabilise' region


President Donald Trump huddled with top national security advisors Thursday to weigh his military options in Syria, as Moscow warned against any move that risks triggering a conflict between Russian Federation and the United States. The White House said he would consult further with allies.

In a report on Wednesday, the website said it could identify 34 people killed in the attack in the photos and videos of the aftermath.

The White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, said in a brief statement after Trump met with Mattis and other members of his National Security Council: "No final decision has been made".

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

Sanders said Trump would speak later with French President Emmanuel Macron and British Prime Minister Theresa May. And he insisted it remains USA policy not to be involved directly in Syria's civil war.

The Pentagon refused to comment further on potential future military operations in response to Trump's tweet. "Could be very soon or not so soon at all!", the President tweeted.

Later Thursday he was noncommittal.

"You don't rush decisions like this", Haley told reporters ahead of the meeting - the fourth on Syria at the council this week. Trump said Thursday on Twitter.

Under no circumstances should President Donald Trump authorize action against Syrians that could lead to wider military involvement there.

The U.S., France and Britain have been consulting about launching a military strike.

The alleged chemical weapons attack on Douma in the Damascus suburbs last week has sparked the possibilty of a confrontation between world powers.

Speaking on TF1 television, Macron said "we have proof that chemical weapons were used, at least chlorine" in recent days by Syrian President Bashar Assad's government. Syria has denied carrying out such an attack.

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Russian Federation has threatened to respond firmly to any military action against the Syrian Government. This is in contrast to an incident one year ago in which the US government had video and other evidence of certain aspects of an actual attack by Syrian aircraft, which involved the use of sarin gas.

Trump on Thursday also suggested he did not get enough credit for U.S. gains against ISIS in the region.

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, based in the Netherlands, announced it was sending a fact-finding team to the site of the attack outside Damascus, and it was due to arrive Saturday. USA action that could bring Americans into conflict with Russian and Iranian forces could have disastrous consequences.

At the House hearing, Democrats grilled Mattis on the wisdom and legality of Trump ordering an attack on Syria without explicit authorization from Congress. Mattis argued it would be justified as an act of self-defence, with 2,000 US ground troops in Syria; he insisted he could not talk about military plans because an attack "is not yet in the offing".

Recently, on April 9, Trump stated that the USA was considering a "powerful" military response to the alleged chemical attack is Syria.

Asked about the risks of USA military retaliation, Mattis cited two concerns, starting with avoiding civilian casualties. "We are not seeking escalation".

Trump did not detail what a strike on Syria would look like, or whether these would be US missiles. More broadly, he doubted the wisdom of bombing.

"Not to react is to prove to the rest of the world that what we say does not matter".

Later on Sunday, he said: "We'll be looking at that barbaric act and study what's going on".

Erdogan says Turkey's warming ties with Russian Federation and Iran are "not an alternative" to its traditional ties to the West, adding that Ankara would "fight until the end" against Russia's support for Syrian President Bashar Assad and against US support to a Syrian Kurdish militia that Ankara has labelled a terrorist group.

Erdogan's remarks appear to criticize an exchange of threats by the United States and Russian Federation, saying Turkey was "deeply disturbed by some countries that rely on their military might, turning Syria into a virtual wrestling ground".

"I'm not ready to speculate that that would happen", Mattis said.