Mattis on Military Action Against Syria: This Was a 'Heavy Strike'


"Right now we have no additional attacks planned".

Mattis said at the Pentagon that the air strike Friday used double the weapons of the one President Donald Trump ordered a year ago and were against targets the USA believed were "selective to hurt the chemical weapons program".

The war of words between the US and Russian Federation over Syria's use of chemical weapons against its own people has escalated.

Mattis also accused Russian Federation of being complicit in Syria's retention of chemical weapons, despite a 2013 deal requiring Syria to abandon them that Moscow helped broker.

Mattis listed two concerns about directly attacking Assad regime targets: "There's a tactical concern of innocent civilians - that we don't add to any civilian deaths ..." "Together, we have sent a clear message to Assad and his murderous lieutenants that they should not perpetrate another chemical weapons attack for which they will be held accountable".

Decisions will be made "fairly soon", President Trump said.

The first target was a military scientific research center in the greater Damascus area - used for research, development, production and testing of chemical and biological weapons, he said. "We assessed that this was the primary location of Syrian sarin and precursor production equipment", he said. The last target was a chemical weapons storage facility and an important command post.

He added that Russian forces were not given advance notice, though the airspace over Syria was conflicted with Russian air forces, as per normal procedures.

But in anticipation of any pushback from Syria or Russia, Dunford said the USA commander in Syria has changed the force protection levels for the 2,000 US troops there fighting the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in case of retaliation.

At the House hearing, Democrats grilled Mattis on the wisdom and legality of Trump ordering an attack on Syria without explicit authorisation from Congress. Mattis argued it would be justified as an act of self-defense, with 2000 U.S. ground troops in Syria; he insisted he could not talk about military plans because an attack "is not yet in the offing".

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Mattis said there were "no reports of losses" on the part of US and allied forces participating in the strike, which included manned aircraft. "We are very confident chlorine was used, we are not ruling out sarin now". Those were active this week to work through the air space issues and so forth.

"Last year we conducted a unilateral strike on a single site", Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford revealed to reporters at the Department of Defense.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime is suspected of carrying out a chemical attack on his own people.

United Nations ambassador Vassily Nebenzia from Moscow said on Thursday that the "immediate priority is to avert the danger of war".

"On a strategic level, it's how do we keep this from escalating out of control", he said.

Syria's capital has been rocked by loud explosions that lit up the sky with heavy smoke as U.S. President Donald Trump announced airstrikes in retaliation for the country's alleged use of chemical weapons.

He said a chemical attack had likely occurred and hoped inspectors would be in place within a week to prove it. "We believe the president has every reason to defend vital American interests", he said.

President Donald Trump is able to take care of the nation Friday evening time amid anticipation of a retaliatory strike for an apparent Syrian chemical weapon assault closing week.

"We were not out to expand this", he said.