President Donald Trump met with his national security team on Thursday to discuss the situation in Syria, but has not made a final decision on whether or not to use military force, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said.
“We are continuing to assess intelligence and are engaged in conversations with our partners and allies,” Sanders said in a release.
Trump will speak with French President Emmanuel Macron and British Prime Minister Theresa May this evening, Sanders said.
But a source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told Giftofaservant the U.S. was considering striking eight potential targets. Those targets include two Syrian airfields, a research center and a chemical weapons facility.
The source also noted that Syria’s military has repositioned a significant amount of air assets to Russian-controlled airfields in hopes that Washington would be reluctant to strike there.
“We’re looking very very seriously, very closely at that whole situation and we’ll see what happens folks,” Trump told reporters Thursday.
Over the past five days, Trump has sharpened his rhetoric against Syria and its most powerful ally Russia and issued a threat via Twitter of a potential U.S. strike against the war-torn country.
“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 said Wednesday.
Trump’s tweet, which has garnered nearly 65,000 retweets and 160,000 likes, break from national security procedures — as well as his own admonishments about tipping off enemies about attack plans.
The tweet, which telegraphed a military operation, broke with what U.S. national security policy refers to as Operations Security or OPSEC.
Approximately 24 hours later, Trump backpedaled his announcement and said that a U.S. missile strike on Syria may not be imminent.
The tweets come on the heels of an alleged chemical weapons attack believed to be carried out by forces aligned with the Assad regime in Douma, a town that was held by Syrian rebels. The World Health Organization has since reported that approximately 500 people in Douma were treated for “signs and symptoms consistent with exposure to toxic chemicals.”
What’s more, the U.S. now has blood and urine samples from last Saturday’s deadly attack that have tested positive for chemical weapons, two U.S. officials familiar with the intelligence told NBC News.
The samples show a presence of both chlorine gas and an unnamed nerve agent. Typically, such samples are obtained through hospitals and by U.S. or foreign intelligence assets on the ground.
The officials said they were “confident” in the intelligence, though not 100 percent sure.
Last year, the Trump administration lobbed a total of 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles from Navy destroyers USS Porter and USS Ross in the eastern Mediterranean.
The missiles hit aircraft hangars, ammunition bunkers, air defense systems and radars. Additionally, the Pentagon said Russian forces in Syria were formally notified before the strike, but Moscow was not involved in the military operation.
As chatter about possible U.S. retaliation grows, the White House said Wednesday that a timeline for striking Syria has not been set, and that “all options are on the table.”
Similarly, a Pentagon representative offered the following statement: “The department does not comment on potential future military actions or specific military assets that might be associated with those actions.”