Trump threatens Syria strike; suggests Russia may share the blame


Associated Press

WASHINGTON

President Donald Trump on Monday threatened an imminent military strike against Syria, vowing to respond “forcefully” to Saturday’s apparent chemical weapons attack on civilians and warning that Russia or any other nation found to share responsibility will “pay a price.”

As he began an evening meeting with military leaders at the White House, Trump promised to “make a decision tonight or very shortly thereafter.” He said: “We have a lot of options militarily, and we’ll be letting you know pretty soon. Probably after the fact.”

The White House sharply rejected any suggestion that Trump’s own words about pulling U.S. troops out of Syria had opened the door for the attack, which killed more than 40 people, including children.

Trump, asked at midday whether Russian President Vladimir Putin bore any responsibility for the weekend attack, responded: “He may, yeah, he may. And if he does it’s going to be very tough, very tough.” He added: “Everybody’s gonna pay a price. He will. Everybody will.”

Then, during the meeting with top military leaders, he said the weekend assault “will be met and it will be met forcefully.” Those at the meeting included Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Joseph Dunford.

Amid the tough talk at the White House, the U.S. military appeared to be in position to carry out any attack order.

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