U.S. President Donald Trump played down the possibility of an imminent military response to an alleged chemical-weapons attack in Syria, saying it "could be very soon or not so soon at all!”
“Never said when an attack on Syria would take place. Could be very soon or not so soon at all!” Trump wrote on April 12.
“In any event, the United States, under my Administration, has done a great job of ridding the region of ISIS. Where is our ‘Thank you America?’ “ he added.
The comments came as Western leaders appeared to be gearing up for air strikes in Syria following a suspected chemical-weapons attack on a rebel-held town near Damascus.
Syria and ally Russia deny there was a chemical attack and have warned that any missile strike on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's forces and facilities would be countered in kind.
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, on April 12 urged against "any steps which could lead to an escalation of tensions."
And Assad said any potential action by Western states would “contribute nothing but an increase in instability in the region,” Syrian state television reported.
In an April 11 tweet, Trump told Russia to “get ready” because missiles “will be coming."
In response, the Russian Foreign Ministry said that missiles “should fly toward terrorists, not toward the lawful government" of Syria.
White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders later said that Trump's national security team had discussed “a number of options" in response to the attack.
“We are still considering a number of those, and a final decision on that front has not been made," she told reporters.
During a television interview, French President Emmanuel Macron said on April 12 that he would decide "in due course" whether to strike Syria.
French and U.S. officials are "working together very closely, and we will have decisions to take, at the time we choose, when we consider it most useful and most effective," Macron said.
"We have proof that last week chemical weapons were used, at least chlorine, and that they were used” by Assad’s forces," he also said.
He did not give the source of his information.
In London, British Prime Minister Theresa May said late on April 11 that all indications pointed to Syrian government responsibility for "a shocking and barbaric act" that could not go unchallenged.
May was expected to discuss the matter at a cabinet meeting on April 12.