Donald Trump said Monday he will make a decision as early as this evening on
the US response to what he called an "atrocious" chemical weapons
attack on civilians in Syria and warned that he will hold the responsible
"We cannot allow atrocities like
that. Cannot allow it," Trump told reporters on Monday during a Cabinet
meeting as he warned that "nothing's off the table." "If it's
Russia, if it's Syria, if it's Iran, if it's all of them together, we'll figure
it out and we'll know the answers quite soon"
Pressed on Russia's role in the
suspected chemical weapons attack, Trump said Russian President Vladimir Putin
-- who backs the Syrian regime -- "may" bear responsibility.
"He may. And if he does, it's
gonna be very tough. Very tough," Trump said of the US response.
"Everybody's gonna pay a price. He will and everybody will."
The Syrian government and Russia have vehemently denied involvement in the attack and
accused rebels in Douma of fabricating the chemical attack claims in order to
hinder the army's advances and provoke international military intervention.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov
said Monday that his country had sent experts to Douma and that there was
"no trace" of the use of chemical weapons there.
Trump's comments are his first public
remarks on the attack, which killed dozens of civilians, since he tweeted about
it on Sunday and warned of a "big price to pay" for those
responsible. His statement comes almost exactly a year after he fired 59
Tomahawk missiles at a Syrian airbase in response to a chemical weapons attack
Trump said the US is still working to
determine who is directly responsible for the attack, which was widely
publicized in recent days after graphic on the ground footage of victims was
shown around the world. Trump said his decision could come as early as the end
of Monday or within the next 48 hours.
"I'd like to begin by condemning
the heinous attack on innocent Syrians with banned chemical weapons,"
Trump said. "It was an atrocious attack, it was horrible. You don't see
things like that as bad as the news is around the world, you just don't see
"We are very concerned, when a
thing like that can happen, this is about humanity. We're talking about
humanity. And it can't be allowed to happen," he added.
Trump expressed frustration at
investigators not being able to get immediate answers about who was behind the
attack and said the US is working "to get people in there."
The attack comes about a week after
Trump told military leaders to draw up plans to prepare a withdrawal of the
remaining US troops from Syria. Pressed Monday on whether those plans still
stand, Trump simply told reporters: "We're gonna make a decision on all of
that, in particular Syria, we'll be making that decision very quickly, probably
by the end of today."