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10:15 20 July
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Trump yet to make decision on Syria action, says Mattis


U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis said Thursday that President Donald Trump has yet to decide on whether he will pursue military action in Syria, APA reports quoting Anadolu agency.

 

"We have not yet made any decision to launch military attacks into Syria," Mattis told lawmakers on the House Armed Services committee. "The president has not made that decision."

 

Earlier Thursday, Trump appeared to walk back earlier comments in which he warned Russia to brace for missiles which "will be coming."

 

"Never said when an attack on Syria would take place. Could be very soon or not so soon at all!" Trump said Thursday on Twitter.

 

The White Helmets, a civil defense agency, blamed the Assad regime for a chemical attack Saturday night in the city of Douma in Eastern Ghouta, which it said killed 78 civilians and injured hundreds of others.

 

Mattis said he believes the suspected chemical attack took place, but said the U.S. is still "looking for the actual evidence".

 

Mattis put the onus for verification on an Organization on a Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) fact-finding team assigned to investigate, saying Washington is trying to get them to the site outside of Damascus within the week.

 

"As each day goes by, as you know it’s a non-persistent gas, so it becomes more and more difficult to confirm it," he said.

 

The OPCW team is tasked with determining if a chemical attack took place, but not determining responsibility.

 

Russia on Tuesday vetoed a UN Security Council draft text that would have established a new expert body to determine culpability for the suspected chemical attack.

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