President Donald Trump has condemned the most recent suspected chemical weapons attack in Syria. Trump said he would make "major decisions" within 24 to 48 hours about how the United States would react.
The president told his cabinet that the U.S. would learn who was responsible for the attack, whether it was Syria, Russia, Iran or "all of them together."
"We're looking at that very strongly, very seriously," he said.
At least 40 people were reported killed in the suspected attack Saturday. It happened in a rebel-held area near Damascus.
Russia said there is no evidence Syria carried out such an attack.
Earlier Monday, U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said the United States is not ruling out military action against Syria.
Mattis spoke to reporters Monday during a meeting with Qatari leader Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani at the Defense Department’s headquarters, near Washington.
Mattis said that the U.S. is “working with our allies and partners from NATO to Qatar and elsewhere, we are going to address this issue." He said the U.S. and its allies want to know why chemical weapons use continues after Russia guaranteed the removal of all such weapons from Syria.
Syria’s government has denied using chemical weapons throughout the Syrian conflict, which began in 2011.
Sunday night, the Trump administration reported about a telephone call between the president and French President Emmanuel Macron. It said the two leaders strongly condemned chemical attacks in Syria. They reportedly agreed that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government "must be held accountable for its continued human rights abuses."
The U.S. president has blamed the Syrian leader for the attack. On Sunday, Trump also criticized Russian President Vladimir Putin. He wrote on Twitter that "President Putin, Russia and Iran are responsible" for their support of, in his words, "Animal Assad."
Also, Syria and Russia say two Israeli military airplanes carried out an attack Monday morning on an air base in central Syria. They said the planes were operating in Lebanese air space.
Israel's military did not comment on the report.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the attack killed 14 people, including Iranian forces.
On Saturday, medical emergency crews said they found families suffocated in their homes and shelters near Damascus. They said the victims had foam on their mouths. Workers said more than 500 people, mostly women and children, were brought to medical centers. They all had difficulty breathing, foaming at the mouth and burning eyes.
The Civil Defense and Syrian American Medical Society said the patients gave off a chlorine-like smell. It noted that some had blue skin – evidence of a lack of oxygen.
I'm Jonathan Evans.
Chris Hannas and Ken Bredemeier reported this story for VOANews. George Grow adapted their report for Learning English. Caty Weaver was the editor.
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Words in This Story
address – v. to communicate directly; to speak of
accountable – adj. required to explain actions or decisions
suffocate – v. to die from being unable to breathe; to die from a lack of oxygen
foam – n. a soft material made from many products; a thick liquid that is made of many small bubbles