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USA concerned about triggering wider war as it weighs strike on Syria
13 April 2018, 02:31 | Tara Lloyd
Pentagon is ready to military options in Syria
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis on Thursday said the United States is not going to engage in the civil war in Syria but will continue to focus on defeating ISIS.
"I believe there was a chemical attack and we are looking for the actual evidence", Mattis told a hearing of the House Armed Services Committee, warning one of his top concerns about any USA military strike was preventing an "out-of-control" escalation in that country's war, in which Russia, Iran, Turkey and others have taken sides.
Syria has denied using chemical weapons throughout the conflict that began in 2011, including the most recent suspected chemical attack Saturday in a rebel-held suburb of Damascus that killed at least 40 people.
Last week, Trump said he wanted to pull out of the war-torn nation, but this week he has taunted Assad ally Russian Federation with boasts of an impending missile strike.
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Mattis placed blame on Russian Federation for the continuing alleged chemical attacks in Syria, despite the fact that Mattis said the USA does not have hard evidence that chemical weapons were used in the Douma attack that has killed at least 43 people.
"President Trump just finished a meeting with his National Security team to discuss the situation in Syria".
"We are trying to stop the murder of innocent people".
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Mattis was referring to worldwide investigating teams from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).
A French frigate, British Royal Navy submarines laden with cruise missiles and the USS Donald Cook, an American destroyer equipped with Tomahawk cruise missiles, have all moved into striking range. About 2,000 US military personnel are in Syria. May's interest in starting before parliament can say no likely will also inform the decision to attack early. A collapse of the Assad regime could lead to a political vacuum in Syria and a resurgence of the Islamic State.
"When the president of the United States says these missiles will be coming, that sounds to me and to the rest of the world, like a decision", Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-Texas) pressed.
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