Defense

Mattis Mysteriously Cancels Weekend Plans As Trump Weighs Military Response In Syria

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has canceled two weekend appearances in the San Francisco area as President Donald Trump considers a U.S. military response to a chemical attack in Syria.

Mattis was scheduled to appear at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco on Saturday, followed by an event at Stanford University on April 16 with former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

Along with those events, Mattis also canceled a scheduled trip to Nevada, reports Fox News, citing U.S. officials.

The changes in Mattis’ schedule come as Trump weighs potential options for a military response to a suspected chemical weapons attack in the Syrian town of Douma over the weekend. Trump promised Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his backers would pay a “big price” for the chemical attack, which killed at least 60 people and left hundreds more injured.

“We’ll be making some major decisions over the next 24 to 48 hours,” the president said Monday.

Trump canceled his own travel plans on Tuesday, choosing to stay in the U.S. to manage the Syria situation instead of traveling to South America for a summit later this week.

Mattis has urged caution about responding quickly to Saturday’s attack, but says a military strike against the Syrian government is on the table.

“I don’t rule out anything right now,” he said when asked about the possibility of a military response.

The alleged chemical attack in Douma occurred almost exactly one year after a sarin gas attack in the northern Syrian town of Khan Sheikhoun, which killed dozens of people. In that instance, Trump retaliated with a Tomahawk cruise missile strike on a Syrian air base, saying it was meant to deter Assad from using chemical weapons again.

Trump has suggested the U.S. will take similar action in response to the latest incident.

“We can’t let atrocities happen,” he said Monday. “Nothing is off the table.”

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