Speaking to congress at a hearing of the House Armed Services Committee on Thursday, Mattis said he believed a chemical attack had taken place and blamed Russian Federation for being complicit in Syrian government's possession of chemical weapons.
Trump lashed out at Russia and Iran for its support of Assad the next day - notably calling out Russian President Vladimir Putin by name.
At the House hearing, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, disputed Trump's legal authority to act without congressional authority and suggested a USA strike would lead to war with Russian Federation. In Syria, this instinct points him away from a military-centric answer to Assad, writes Bonnie Kristian. Prior to that allegation - and Trump's airstrikes on Assad assets in response - the Syrian dictator had said that Trump's public claims that he was eager to withdraw the USA military from the country were "promising" but lamented that Trump did not engage directly with him.
Yet Trump broke his own rule with this tweet, letting Russia, Syria, and the rest of the world know that a missile strike is on the way.
At least 40 people, many of them children, died in the weekend attack in the town of Douma, near the capital Damascus. The OPCW replied that a mission would be deployed to the affected town and asked the Syrian government to make necessary preparations.
He went on to state, "We have not yet made any decision to launch military attacks into Syria".
The Cabinet meeting suggests May could decide to sidestep parliamentary approval for military strikes amid reports that Assad has begun moving his arsenal away from air bases that are likely to be targeted.
Russian media reported on Wednesday that the U.S. would provide Russia with a list of its targets for the Syria strike.
However, at 61 per cent, a majority do believe the Syrian government or their allies were "probably" responsible for the chemical attack in Douma.
France has also said it would join the military action.
Later, Trump told reporters at the White House that he would be having more meetings Thursday about the Syria situation, and "we'll see what happens". Qatar hosts the United States' main air operations center for the Middle East, which would coordinate any American air attack in Syria.
Syria's Foreign Ministry said Wednesday that Trump's threats to attack are "reckless" and endanger global peace and security.
In this image from video provided by the U.S. Navy, the guided-missile destroyer USS Porter (DDG 78) launches a tomahawk land attack missile in the Mediterranean Sea, Friday, April 7, 2017.
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