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No 'final decision' from Trump on Syria

No 'final decision' from Trump on Syria

US President Donald Trump has cast doubt over the timing of his threatened strike on Syria in response to a reported chemical weapons attack on civilians, saying it "could be very soon or not so soon at all".

In the call, the two leaders had agreed that the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad "had established a pattern of risky behaviour in relation to the use of chemical weapons", Downing Street said.

Meanwhile, US defence secretary James Mattis has said the country's military stands ready to provide President Trump with options for striking Syria.

"We're having a number of meetings today, we'll see what happens, we're obviously looking at that very closely", he told lawmakers and governors in the Cabinet Room.

But she says, "No final decision has been made".

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

The Cook - named after a Marine Colonel who suffered depravation and starvation as a Vietnam prisoner of war - has past experience tangling with the Russian military, having been deployed to the Black Sea during the recent crisis in Crimea.

Senior Russian figures, including the head of the military, have warned that USA missiles will be shot down and their launch sites targeted if Russian personnel come under threat.

The UN Security Council has scheduled another emergency meeting, scheduled for Friday at 10am NY time (midnight Saturday AEST), at Russia's request.

US officials suspect the Russia-backed Assad regime is behind the attack. "I refer you to the White House to characterise the president's tweet", a Pentagon spokesman said.

The White House and National Security Council did not immediately respond to Anadolu Agency's requests for comment on the report.

With Russian military assistance, al-Assad launched a military offensive on Eastern Ghouta, which had been under rebel control since mid-2013.

A top leader of Jaish al-Islam, a group which controlled Douma for years, told AFP it was Saturday's attack that forced them to accept a Russian-brokered deal and evacuate. She told her senior ministers on Thursday the Douma events showed a "deeply concerning" erosion of worldwide legal norms barring the use of chemical weapons.

That may prove too little, too late.

In a statement, Senator Bernie Sanders said Trump has no legal authority for broadening the war in Syria.

According to the sources, the specific response being considered in the event of USA military action against Syria is Japan's "support for the US resolve to fulfill its responsibility to prevent the use of chemical weapons".

Prime Minister Theresa May held an emergency cabinet meeting to discuss joining mooted strikes by the U.S. and allies, with ministers agreeing "on the need to take action", her Downing Street office said in a statement. USA lawmakers questioned whether Trump has the legal authority to order strikes without Congressional approval and opposition parties voiced concern.

But the pinpoint strike did not deter Assad and USA officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, have since investigated as many as 10 suspected chemical attacks.

The World Health Organisation said on Wednesday around 500 people had been treated for "signs and symptoms consistent with exposure to toxic chemicals" after the Douma attack.