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President Trump says a ‘major decision’ is coming soon after ‘heinous’ chemical attack in Syria

U.S. President Donald J. Trump speaks with the media before a meeting Monday with his cabinet in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington D.C. Trump said he will decide in the next few days how the U.S. will respond to reported chemical attacks on civilians in Syria. (Jim Lo Scalzo/Getty Images)

Speaking to the media during a Cabinet meeting, President Donald Trump told reporters that he is meeting with military leaders and making some “major decisions over the next 24 to 48 hours” in response to reported chemical attacks on civilians in Syria.

“We are very concerned when a thing like that can happen," Trump said. "This is about humanity. We’re talking about humanity."

Trump was responding to reports that hundreds of civilians in Syria were attacked with chemical weapons on Saturday, as the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad tries to regain territory held by rebel fighters.

"I'd like to begin by condemning the heinous attack on innocent Syrians with banned chemical weapons," Trump stated. "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 those images."

Trump said that a decision would come “very quickly, probably by the end of the day,” adding “we cannot allow atrocities like that.”

“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,” he promised.

Trump said that he was not excluding the possibility that Russian President Vladimir Putin was responsible for the attack, and if that ended up being the case, Putin would not be exempt from retaliation.

“He may and if he does it’s going to be very tough," he said. "Everybody’s going to pay a price. He will, everybody will.”

On Sunday, Trump tweeted his outrage over the attack:

Many dead, including women and children, in mindless CHEMICAL attack in Syria. Area of atrocity is in lockdown and encircled by Syrian Army, making it completely inaccessible to outside world. President Putin, Russia and Iran are responsible for backing Animal Assad. Big price to pay. ... Another humanitarian disaster for no reason whatsoever. SICK!

As recently as last Wednesday, the White House announced that the United States’ mission in Syria was coming to a “rapid end.” That in turn clarified a March 29 speech in which Trump promised that U.S. troops would be leaving Syria, "very soon."

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