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President Trump is weighing options for a military strike in Syria, a possible prelude to a major expansion of American intervention that officials said Thursday could serve as a response to a devastating chemical weapons attack by the Syrian government.
As Defense Secretary Jim Mattis prepared to meet with Mr. Trump in Florida to discuss military options, Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson promised a “serious response” from the United States to the use of chemical weapons on Tuesday by the government of President Bashar al-Assad. Mr. Tillerson made it clear that the Trump administration saw “no role” for Mr. Assad to continue governing Syria.
American officials said the options ranged from a limited cruise-missile strike to destroy a relatively isolated military installation to a multiday offensive that could involve the use of American warplanes against a range of targets, including Syria’s extensive air defenses. One other possibility, experts speculated, might be to strike the airfield that Syrian aircraft used to carry out the chemical attack on the rebel town of Khan Sheikhoun.