U.S. President Donald Trump is pursuing more expansive strike options against Syria and is unhappy with the more prudent plans presented to him by security advisers, according to a report from the Wall Street Journal.
Trump has said the U.S. would retaliate against Bashar Assad's regime for a suspected chemical attack on the Syrian town of Douma last Saturday, for which the West holds Damascus responsible. Assad has rejected the accusations as false. Both France and the U.S. claimed to have proof for the allegations.
Citing unnamed White House and other administration officials, the report says that in recent meetings with Secretary of Defense James Mattis, Trump has been pushing for a more aggressive approach that would also damage Syria's allies, Russia and Iran.
“He wants Mattis to push the limits a little bit more,” said one of the officials in the report.
The Pentagon chief has been reportedly cautious, saying such broader strikes may lead to a dangerous confrontation with Russia and Iran that the U.S. is not prepared for.
Mattis is currently reported to be alone on the opposition to a U.S. military action in Syria during security meetings, as National Security Adviser John Bolton, acting Secretary of State John Sullivan, and UN envoy Nikki Haley have all voiced their support to strike the Assad regime.
Earlier on Friday, Lebanon's Iran-backed Hezbollah said it does not believe the latest Syria crisis will spiral into a direct U.S.-Russia conflict or a wider all-out war.
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The heavily armed Shi'ite Hezbollah movement has been a vital military ally of Syrian President Bashar Assad in the seven-year war.
"We rule out the situation developing into a direct American-Russian clash or a wide state of war," Sheikh Naim Qassem, its deputy leader told Lebanese daily al-Joumhouria in an interview.
"The conditions do not point to a total war happening ... unless Trump and (Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu completely lose their minds," he said.