San Diego protesters oppose attack on Syria

Trudeau said that about an hour before the U.S. attack, U.S. Defence Secretary Jim Mattis called Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan, who then briefed the prime minister.

There was no independent confirmation of civilian casualties.

As soon as the news of the chemical attack horrified the world on Tuesday, Russia denied Syria's military was responsible. The base's runway was still in use. But a spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin warned that the strikes dealt "a significant blow" to relations between Moscow and Washington.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California said the strikes were "a limited but necessary response" and called on Trump to "develop a comprehensive strategy to end Syria's civil war".

The Russian military sent an official message to the Pentagon and summoned the USA military attaché in Moscow to announce that it would shut down a hotline established to prevent accidental clashes in the skies over Syria. "I am not supporting anybody", she said.

On Friday, senior USA military officials were looking more closely at possible Russian involvement in the poison attack.

But the move angered Russian Federation, a major ally of Mr Assad, and appeared to diminish chances of closer cooperation with Moscow that Mr Trump has said is possible, especially in fighting ISIS. Russia, Syria, and its other backers denounced the military action while USA allies in Europe, Israel, and Saudi Arabia cheered Trump on.

But Othman said his organization strongly opposes any action that could harm more civilians.

"A senior military official cited by BuzzFeed said they "have no knowledge" of Russia's involvement or prior knowledge of the attack, and said they were in the process of "[investigating] any information that could lead in that direction".

He added that the USA also needed to take action for our own national security interests, because once the use of chemical weapons becomes acceptable, the world quickly becomes a "very risky place".

White House officials caution that Trump is not preparing to plunge the US deeper into Syria. Russian military personnel and aircraft are embedded with Syria's, and Iranian troops and paramilitary forces are also on the ground helping Assad fight the array of opposition groups hoping to topple him. Moscow said the attack was a false pretext to launch an air assault against Assad's government.

At another meeting there, Mr Trump signed off on the missile attacks and went to dinner with Mr Xi. US officials noted that the timing of the strike had the possible added benefit of signaling to China that Trump is willing to make good on his threat to act alone to stop North Korea's nuclear pursuits if Beijing doesn't exert more pressure on Pyongyang.

"The Constitution is very clear that war originates in the legislature", said Sen.

The official state news agency SANA said the strikes killed nine civilians in villages near the base.

"This is patterned behavior", Jennifer Cafarella, a Syria analyst for the Washington-based Institute for the Study of War, said to BuzzFeed.

The strike prompted an abrupt change in Trudeau's position: after stopping short Thursday of directly blaming Assad, he accused the Syrian government on Friday of using chemical weapons against its own people.

  • Larry Hoffman