The US Navy destroyer USS Donald Cook left Cyprus port where it was anchored and can now launch Tomahawk cruise missiles against targets in Syria if so ordered.

US President Donald Trump promised yesterday that the decision on the US response to the chemical attack in Syria would be "powerful" and would be taken within 24 to 48 hours, noting that various military options were being considered. US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said talks had ended. "We're no longer in the stage of showing pictures of dead babies ... We're moving beyond the stage of appeals to conscience ... the US will respond."

Cyprus, Syria
Cyprus, SyriaiStock

"It was a terrible attack, it was terrible," Trump told reporters as the military chiefs sat beside him at a large table in the White House cabinet room. "You don't see things like that - the news around the world is bad, you don't see pictures like that."

During the meeting Trump received updates from his army chiefs. Next to him was the new National Security Advisor John Bolton, who took up his post that morning.

Arleigh Burke class guided missile destroyer USS Donald Cook (DDG-75)
Arleigh Burke class guided missile destroyer USS Donald Cook (DDG-75)צילום: iStock

"We're studying the situation very closely," Trump added. "We meet with our military and all the others, and we'll make serious decisions within the next 24 to 48 hours ... We're very concerned that something like this has happened ... We're talking about humans and humanity. Such things shouldn't be allowed to happen.

"We'll look at this barbaric act and learn what's happening," he promised. "We try to get people in there, as you know they surrounded the place, and it's very hard to get people in there because they didn't just hit the place, they surrounded it too. If they're innocent, why aren't they letting people come in and prove it? As you know, they claim that they didn't carry out the attack, so if it's Russia, if it's Syria, if it's Iran, if it's all of them together, we'll figure it out and we'll know very soon."

In the evening, the President told the press: "We mustn't allow atrocities like those we all saw ... We mustn't allow this to happen in our world, especially if, because of the power of the United States, we can stop it.

"We're getting very good clarity" about the identity of those responsible for the attack, he added. "We have many military options, and we'll update you soon enough."

Tomahawk cruise missile launch
Tomahawk cruise missile launchReuters