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Mattis on Launching Airstrikes on Syria: 'I Don't Rule Out Anything'

Mattis on Launching Airstrikes on Syria: 'I Don't Rule Out Anything'

The US has not ruled out launching airstrikes against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime in response to the weekend's suspected chemical gas attack on civilians, Defense Secretary James Mattis said Monday.

"I do not rule out anything right now", Mattis told reporters at the Pentagon, while hosting Qatari emir Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani.

Mattis' remarks also came after missiles struck a Syrian airbase in Homs province earlier on Monday, state media reported, with Russian Federation and Syria blaming Israel for carrying out the attack.

"Working with our allies and our partners from North Atlantic Treaty Organisation to Qatar and elsewhere, we are going to address this issue", said Mattis.

UN Ambassador Nikki Haley announced Sunday that there will be an emergency UN Security Council meeting on the chemical weapons attack Monday.

Trump said his administration would make a decision on how to react to the attack, "probably" by the end of Monday.

Trump, last April, responded militarily to reported chemical weapons use, ordering the US military to launch Tomahawk missiles at a Syrian airfield believed to be the launching point of a similar chemical weapons attack. Monday was the first day on the job for his new national security adviser, John Bolton, who has previously advocated military action against Syria.

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The Russian Foreign Ministry dismissed reports that the Syrian government was responsible for the alleged incident, saying the claims were yet another example of a "continuous series of fake news about the use of chlorine and other chemical agents by the government forces".

At the Pentagon on Monday, Mattis spoke about how the USA will respond to the use of chemical weapons on civilians.

Many dead, including women and children, in mindless CHEMICAL attack in Syria. "Everybody's going to pay a price". When Trump ordered airstrikes past year after a chemical weapons attack, it was a response to the use of Sarin gas, which is banned by the Chemical Weapons Convention that Syria has signed.

"At this time, the Department of Defense is not conducting air strikes in Syria", the statement said. "Area of atrocity is in lockdown and encircled by Syrian Army, making it completely inaccessible to outside world". Animal Assad would have been history! Open area immediately for medical help and verification.

Fielding questions at the White House, Trump press secretary Sarah Sanders said it would be "outrageous" to say that Trump's recent announcement that he intends to remove all USA forces from Syria in the coming months had emboldened Assad.

Trump's homeland security adviser, Thomas Bossert, noted on ABC's "This Week" the timing of the suspected chemical attack - nearly a year to the day of the US missile strikes. "We're looking into the attack at this point".