Trump vowing to ‘forcefully’ respond to chemical attack in Syria: 5 things to know


Update Apr 9, 2018 7:30 PM EDT: President Donald Trump is vowing to “forcefully” respond to the chemical attack in Syria that left at least 40 people dead.

“It will be met and it will be met forcefully,” Trump said.

“We are getting clarity on that, on who was responsible, Trump said at a press availability at the White House late Monday afternoon ahead of a meeting with his military leaders.

“We have a lot of options militarily,” the president said.

(Previous story)

A missile strike on a Syrian air base left at least 14 dead Monday, just days after a suspected chemical attack on Douma, a rebel-held town, killed at least 40 people.

>> What is a Tomahawk cruise missile and what does it do?

Here's what we know so far:

1. President Donald Trump has not ruled out the possibility of U.S. military action in response to Saturday’s suspected chemical attack.

Trump said Monday that that he will decide how to respond within the next "24 to 48 hours.”

“Nothing is off the table,” he said. “We’re talking about humanity, and it can’t be allowed to happen.”

The president took to Twitter on Sunday to blame Syrian President Bashar Assad for the alleged chemical attack. Trump also pointed fingers at Russian President Vladimir Putin, Iran and former U.S. President Barack Obama. 

"Many dead, including women and children, in mindless CHEMICAL attack in Syria," Trump tweeted Sunday morning. "Area of atrocity is in lockdown and encircled by Syrian Army, making it completely inaccessible to outside world. President Putin, Russia and Iran are responsible for backing Animal Assad. Big price to pay. Open area immediately for medical help and verification. Another humanitarian disaster for no reason whatsoever. SICK!"

Trump later added: "If President Obama had crossed his stated Red Line In The Sand, the Syrian disaster would have ended long ago! Animal Assad would have been history!"

>> What is sarin nerve gas?

2. The Syrian and Russian governments denied the claims. According to The New York Times, "state news media in Syria denied that government forces had used chemical weapons and accused the Islamist rebel group that controls Douma, the Army of Islam, of fabricating the videos to solicit international support as defeat loomed."

The Russian government shared that position.

"Information attacks about the use of chlorine or other poisonous substances by the Syrian government troops are continuing. Another such hoax about the chemical attack that supposedly took place in Douma emerged yesterday," the statement said, according to CNN.

"We have warned of such dangerous provocations many times before. The purpose of these false conjectures, which are without any basis, is to shield the terrorists and the irreconcilable radical opposition, which reject a political settlement while trying to justify possible military strikes from outside."

>> Read more trending news 

3. The U.S. said it was not behind the deadly missile strike on Syria's T4 air base. "At this time, the Department of Defense is not conducting air strikes in Syria. However, we continue to closely watch the situation and support the ongoing diplomatic efforts to hold those who use chemical weapons, in Syria and otherwise, accountable," the Pentagon said in a statement, according to CNN

The statement came as Syrian state media said the airstrike was probably "an American aggression," The Associated Press reported. Meanwhile, Russia's Defense Ministry claimed that Israel had fired the missiles.

4. The United Nations Security Council is meeting Monday about the suspected chemical attack. “The Security Council has to come together and demand immediate access for first responders, support an independent investigation into what happened, and hold accountable those responsible for this atrocious act,” Nikki Haley, U.S. ambassador to the U.N., said in a statement.

>> ONE YEAR AGO: US fires more than 50 cruise missiles into Syria

5. The latest developments in Syria come about a year after a chemical attack there reportedly killed at least 80 people in Khan Sheikhun. According to CNN, the U.S. launched dozens of Tomahawk missiles at Syria's Shayrat air base in response to the April 4 attack.


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