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Home / US / Mattis wanted to get Congress approval before the strike in Syria. He was overruled.

Mattis wanted to get Congress approval before the strike in Syria. He was overruled.



Administration and Congress officials said the hawk, Mr. Bolton, was not going to relocate to the Defense Secretary. Already, neo-conservative members of the Republican foreign policy establishment have expressed concerns that Mr. Matti's strategic territory will be transferred to Iran and Russia in Syria

. Mattis is seen by global leaders as the strongest and perhaps most credible foreign-policy voice in a government that has been shaken by layoffs and resignations of senior presidential advisers. The recent departures of General McMaster and Rex W. Tillerson as Foreign Ministers have paid more attention to Mr Mattis's role in the Cabinet. On Tuesday, Mr. Mattis and General Joseph F. Dunford, Jr., Chair of The Joint Chiefs of Staff, informed lawmakers on Capitol Hill about the Syrian air strikes in closed rallies.

"We must present a check to this president, each president, when it comes to congressional constitutional responsibility," said Representative Barbara Lee, Democrat of California, in an interview on Tuesday. She called the strikes in Syria "illegal" last week.

Defending his case last week before the Allied strikes with Great Britain and France, Mr. Mattis lost the battle for Congressional approval. But he won the bigger war.

Mr. Mattis advocated limiting the attacks to three targets that would not jeopardize Russian troops scattered in military facilities in Syria. The 105 missiles also failed to hit any Syrian military units responsible for conducting a suspected chemical attack on Douma near Damascus on April 7.

In the end, Mr Trump's description at night of a larger case was refuted by the targeted attacks coordinated response, which could take days or weeks.

"The combined response of the Americans, British and French to these atrocities will integrate all instruments of our national power – military, economic and diplomatic -" Trump said in a speech to the nation during the strike. "We are ready to sustain this reaction until the Syrian regime ceases its use of banned chemical warfare agents."

But since then there have been no more strikes, and the Pentagon said there are no plans for it. "This is a one-time attempt," Mattis said on Friday, calling the airstrikes "a very strong message to prevent President Bashar al-Assad of Syria from using chemical weapons against his own people."

Trump's harassment of threats last week with a sharp reaction to suspected gas attacks guaranteed that the United States military would attack Syria, according to two Defense Department officials who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Nonetheless, Mr. Mattis, after knowing the internal debate, urged the approval of the Congress. In several White House meetings last week, he underlined the importance of linking military operations to public support, a position Mr Mattis has long held.

Col. Air Force patron Patrick S. Ryder, a spokesman for General Dunford, declined on Tuesday to discuss the internal debate between the Pentagon and the White House on the scope of the strikes before they were launched.

It was the second public divergence of views between Mr. Trump and Mr. Mattis on Syria in the last two weeks.

Just days before the alleged chemical attack, the president said he was ready for the estimated 2,000 American troops who are currently in Syria to leave the battlefield, where they are fighting with Kurdish allies against the Islamic State. Mr. Mattis and other helpers quickly denied him an immediate retreat.

Pentagon officials also said there was a fear that Congressional aversion to US military operations after the terrorist attacks of 2001, without Capitol Hill could grow aboard Mr. Assad's chemical weapons program

. Trump did not want to hit Syria hard enough to lead Russia into the war, government officials said. But he wanted to appear aggressive in his answer.

"He just wants the big show," said Derek Chollet, a deputy defense minister in the Obama administration. "So Mattis probably pushed for an open door."

Mr. Mattis is particularly concerned about overstretching the American military in Syria. He does not want the United States to deviate from its stated policy of concentrating only on the struggle in Syria against the Islamic State – and not embarking on the seven-year civil war.

Russian forces and Iranian militias have Mr. Assad remains in power against Syrian opposition fighters accusing him of a brutal siege of the country.

"The strike was really just enough to politically cover the president, but not enough to lead a war with the Russians," said Jon Soltz, a two-tour veteran of the Iraq war, chairman of the liberal veterans group VoteVets is. "It was clear that the military had tight restrictions on the operation and that everyone in the military seemed to know that, except the president."

Mr. Mattis publicly denied the proposals on Tuesday that Mr. Assad's limited strikes represented little more than a PR reaction.

"The French, the United Kingdom, the United States, allies, all NATO allies, we worked together to uphold the ban on the use of chemical weapons," said Mattis at the Pentagon. "We did what we thought was right under the laws of our country in accordance with international law." And I hope the Assad regime received the message this time, "Mattis said.

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