Amid speculation that a USA -led strike conducted with several allies on multiple Syrian targets could be imminent, Trump publicly warned Russian Federation that "missiles will be coming to Syria" before insisting on Twitter that he "never said when an attack on Syria would take place".
Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the United Nations, on Friday accused Russian Federation of lies and covering up for Assad, which she said had used chemical weapons at least 50 times in the past seven years of warfare. "We thank them both".
Trump is also expected to speak to French President Emmanuel Macron about what form action could take, with the White House saying "no final decision has been made".
As the leaders spoke, explosions were heard in Damascus.
United Kingdom backs USA military action on Syria
Syria said its air defenses were "confronting the U.S. -French-British aggression", according to the state-run SANA news agency. It was not clear whether the presence of the investigators could affect the timing of any United States military action.
But Russia's Defence Ministry said the majority of missiles fired were intercepted by Syrian government air defence systems.
The president said the attack involved "precision strikes on targets associated with chemical weapons facilities". The attack destroyed Syrian aircraft but left Assad in power.
Syrian government forces have raised their flag over the last rebel bastion in eastern Ghouta, taking full control of the town of Douma as insurgents withdraw, Russian news agencies reported on Thursday, sealing a major victory for President Bashar al-Assad. But during the weekend, images of dead and sick women and children again circulated following another alleged chemical attack.
The defense secretary says Friday's strikes have "sent a clear message" to Assad and his "murderous lieutenants".
"The objective of our actions tonight is to establish a strong deterrent against the production, spread and use of chemical weapons", Trump said.
Syria Attack 'Very Soon Or Not So Soon At All!'
But the Kremlin itself has avoided repeating the shoot-down warning, when asked repeatedly about it Wednesday . But the action Mr Trump threatened would probably be aimed at military targets such as Mr Assad's airbases.
Meanwhile, British Prime Minister Theresa May held a special cabinet meeting to consider whether Britain should join the United States and France in possible military action. "And a significant body of information including intelligence indicates the Syrian Regime is responsible for this latest attack". Military, economic and diplomatic. The nations of the world can be judged by the friends they keep. "Russia must decide if it will continue down this dark path or join civilised nations as a force for peace".
"A pre-designed scenario is being implemented".
Syria and Russian Federation have denied any involvement in the alleged attack.
"We will need to take decisions in due course, when we judge it most useful and effective", he told broadcaster TF1.
In congressional testimony this week Mattis addressed some of the concerns administration officials weighed as they deliberated on a possible response.
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President Donald Trump speaks during an event on tax policy in the Rose Garden of the White House, April 12, 2018, in Washington.