Donald Trump cancels weekend trip to oversee Syria response

"Also, it will put other countries and leaders in a real fair warning, whether it's Putin or the leader of Iran, that if you do something like this, you're going to be dealt with". "But on a strategic level, it's how do we keep this from escalating out of control, if you get my drift on that", Mattis said in morning testimony before the House Armed Services Committee.

"Russia vows to shoot down any and all missiles fired at Syria", Trump tweeted early Wednesday.

The statement was the latest in a war of words raging between Washington and Moscow since Saturday's suspected attack on the rebel-held town Douma, just outside Damascus, which is believed to have killed more than 40 people.

After Trump's tweet, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights - a British-based war monitor with a network of sources on the ground - reported that pro-government forces were emptying main airports and military air bases. Pentagon planners now are also likely to target the pilots and the commanders, said the former official who spoke about military options on condition of anonymity.

By inviting the international chemical weapons watchdog to send a fact-finding mission to Syria, the government claimed it proved it was innocent of the allegations of using chemical weapons.

The Russian military said later it had observed movements of US naval forces in the Gulf.

Eastern Ghouta had been the biggest rebel stronghold near Damascus, but insurgent groups there surrendered after a series of ferocious government assaults aided by Russia under a massive bombardment.

Efforts to find a diplomatic solution at the UN Security Council on Tuesday failed, with Washington and Moscow opposing each other's rival motions to set up an international investigation into chemical weapons use. Donald Trump responded quickly condemning Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and attacking #Russia for assisting them.

President Trump has promised a forceful U.S. response to Saturday's incident in the Damascus suburb of Douma.

Yet Trump broke his own rule with this tweet, letting Russia, Syria, and the rest of the world know that a missile strike is on the way. According to the U.N. envoy for Syria, an estimated 400,000 Syrians have been killed since 2011.

President Trump warned the Kremlin on Wednesday not to retaliate against any U.S. strike on Syria in the aftermath of a deadly chemical weapons attack orchestrated by the Assad regime.

As it looked to head off the threat of Western strikes, Syria said it had invited the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, which has blamed the regime for previous attacks, to visit the site.

Illustrative photo of a US Air Force F-15E Strike Eagle flying over northern Iraq on September 23, 2014, after conducting airstrikes in Syria.

On April 11, Trump tweeted that Russia should "get ready" for "nice and new and smart" American missiles in Syria.

The U.S. and its allies have threatened to take military action in response to an alleged chemical attack last weekend.

  • Leon Brazil