WH: All Options Are on the Table on Syria

By Melanie Arter | April 11, 2018 | 9:09pm EDT
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders (Screenshot)

(CNSNews.com) - Despite President Donald Trump’s tweet warning Russia to “get ready” and saying that “smart” missiles will be fired at Syria, the White House said Wednesday that all options are on the table, including diplomatic efforts.

"Russia vows to shoot down any and all missiles fired at Syria. Get ready Russia, because they will be coming, nice and new and 'smart!' You shouldn’t be partners with a Gas Killing Animal who kills his people and enjoys it!" Trump tweeted Wednesday morning.

When asked what “get ready Russia” means and whether the U.S. is planning to target Russian assets and personnel in Syria as part of an attack that Trump said is coming, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said, “We're maintaining that we have a number of options, and all of those options are still on the table. Final decisions haven’t been made yet on that front.”

As far as Russian claims that the White Helmets brigade component of the rebels in Syria are responsible for the chemical attack on Syrian civilians, Sanders said, “The intelligence provided certainly paints a different picture, and the president holds Syria and Russia responsible for this chemical weapons attack.”

Defense Secretary James Mattis and CIA Director Mike Pompeo, who was recently nominated to head the State Department, were spotted on White House grounds. The White House said the president’s national security team met today, chaired by Vice President Mike Pence “to discuss a number of options.”

“Sarah, you just said that the intelligence provided certainly paints a different picture, and that the president holds Syria and Russia responsible for the attack. However, earlier this morning, the Defense secretary said, ‘We're still assessing the intelligence -- ourselves…We're still working on this,’” a reporter asked.

“So what has changed over the last handful of hours from when the Defense Secretary said, ‘We're still assessing the intelligence,’ and now, to where you clearly point the finger at Russia and Syria?” the reporter added.

“Russia holds some responsibility in the fact that they guaranteed that Syria wouldn’t use chemical weapons again, and they did. They also hold some responsibility in the fact that they have the six U.N. resolutions that they vetoed to help protect Assad. Both of those things lie at Russia's feet in terms of responsibility in this process,” Sanders said.

“So then you still are assessing the intelligence then as the Defense Secretary stated before?” the reporter asked.

“Certainly, there are things that are being assessed. I can't get into the details, but we're confident in the part of this process that we're in to feel comfortable making the assertions that we have earlier today,” Sanders replied.

“Sarah, as you say, ‘All options are on the table’ when it comes to Syria and Russia. Has diplomacy been exhausted? That's an option, as well,” American Urban Radio Network’s (AURN) April Ryan asked.

“As I said, all options are on the table,” Sanders said, adding, “That contains a number of different things.”

When asked whether diplomacy could still be in play, Sanders said, ”It could be, but there are a lot of other options that are also on the table.”

When asked whether the administration plans to go to Congress for authorization for another military strike on Syria, as Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and others are saying, Sanders said, “Obviously, the administration will follow whatever laws and regulations are necessary for any actions that we take. Because we haven't laid out any specific actions that we plan to take, I can't tell you exactly what needs we would have to go to Congress with.”

 

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