When asked about the evidence supporting accusations against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's forces for the alleged chemical attack, "Mad Dog" Mattis responded in a measured tone:
"We're still assessing the intelligence - ourselves and our allies. We're still working on this," Mattis stated.
However, he reiterated Trump's attitude to the issue, saying the Pentagon was ready "to provide military options if they are appropriate as the president determines," NBC News reported.
The defense secretary referred to Trump's April 9 statement on a "powerful" military response to the alleged chemical attack in Douma, blamed by Syrian opposition media outlets on the Syrian government despite a lack of credible evidence. The story was promptly picked up by the White Helmets, which were posting unverified footage of the aftermath of the alleged attack, with claims that up to 70 people had died of "widespread suffocation."
Responding to the report, the United States and its allies rushed to put the blame for the attack on Damascus, explaining that a "history" of using such weapons by the Syrian authorities was "not in dispute."
While Bashar al-Assad's government has denied the allegations, arguing that the entire incident was staged, President Trump discussed the issue with his European counterparts, agreeing to work together to hold the perpetrators accountable.