U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told Congress on Thursday he believed there was a chemical attack in Syria and that the United States wanted inspectors on the ground to collect evidence, warning that job became more hard as time passes.
Mattis and Joint Chiefs Chairman Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford went before the House to testify on the fiscal 2019 defense budget as Capitol Hill buzzed with speculation about President Donald Trump's threats to attack Syria and possibly start a proxy war with Russian Federation.
"As each day goes by - as you know, it is a non-persistent gas - so it becomes more and more hard to confirm it", Mattis told the lawmakers. "Never said when an attack on Syria would take place", he tweeted. "We're trying to get inspectors in, probably within a week".
But Haley said she's satisfied and urged caution in the US' response to the chemical weapons attack Saturday in Douma that killed at least 60 people.
That boast came about a day after Trump tweeted for Russian Federation to "get ready", because US missiles "will be coming, nice and new and 'smart!'" Officials later said no decisions on a Syria strike had been made when the commander in chief tweeted that.
U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis testifies to the House Armed Services Committee on "The FY 2019 National Defense Authorization Budget Request from the Department of Defense" on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., April 12, 2018.More news: Netflix, Inc. (NFLX) has current market capitalization of $131.64 Billion
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Meanwhile, Russian ambassador to the U.N. Vitaly Churkin said Russia does not rule out the possibility of a conflict with the US, adding that the main priority is averting war in Syria.
Mattis insisted that Trump has not yet made a decision to strike Syria, after the president earlier had tweeted that action "could be very soon or not so soon at all!"
"We're still assessing the intelligence, ourselves and our allies", Mattis said. "So, I can not tell you that we have evidence, even though we have a lot of media and social media indicators that either chlorine or sarin was used".
One of his biggest concerns in a potential strike, however, is the death of innocent civilians, Mattis said.
"You saw President Obama try to deal with those chemical weapons when he was in and enlisting the Russians who now it shows were complicit in Syria retaining those weapons, Assad retaining them - and the only reason Assad is still in power is because of the Russians regrettable vetoes in the United Nations and the Russian and Iranian military", Mattis said. It is in the United States' best interests that global agreements banning the use of chemical weapons be obeyed, he said. The U.S. deficit is slated to reach $1 trillion by 2020.
"Russia vows to shoot down any and all missiles fired at Syria", Mr. Trump wrote. "We're still working on this", referring to France and the United Kingdom.