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Syrian Army soldiers advancing in an area on the eastern outskirts of Douma, where the chemical attack took place. Photo: Stringer/AFP/Getty

The world is waiting to see whether President Trump takes military action in response to a chemical attack that killed dozens of civilians in Syria, now that he's said he'll decide in the next 24 to 48 hours.

“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 the answers quite soon,” he told reporters before a cabinet meeting. “So we’re looking at that very strongly and very seriously.”

Between the lines: Trump’s next move could be a preview of things to come now that National Security Adviser John Bolton has taken the reins from H.R. McMaster. Bolton has written thousands of words of op-eds, but it’s unclear what course he might advise in this specific situation.

Axios’ Jonathan Swan emails, “While Bolton is an interventionist hawk, he doesn’t favor interventions on humanitarian grounds. He regards his foreign policy views as ‘pro-American’ and says he views intervention entirely through that lens.”

  • Bolton opposed strikes in 2013, when Barack Obama was deciding whether to enforce his “red line” in Syria, but praised the “very precise nature”of Trump’s strikes last year, per the NY Times

Trump's range of options, according to Jennifer Cafarella of the Institute for the Study of War...

  1. Pinprick strikes on the Assad regime, like those he ordered last April after a previous chemical attack. The downside: Those strikes failed to deter Assad.
  2. More damaging strikes targeted at the Assad regime, for example striking "numerous regime airfields and military bases, and warning the Russians in advance," Cafarella says. The downside: "It will not harm Assad's backers and therefore is unlikely to weaken his resolve."
  3. Strikes that would affect all three actors Trump named, hitting targets like joint Russian-Iranian bases or command and control centers. The downside: Russia has said it will retaliate to strikes that endanger Russian troops.

The bottom line: Cafarella says if Trump chooses option number 3, Russia, Iran, and Assad might limit their response to attempting to shoot down the U.S. missiles or aircraft. More dangerous is the possibility of a counter attack, perhaps on a U.S. warship in the Mediterranean. 

The big question: Will Trump shift from his goal of getting out of Syria ASAP to a broader policy of constraining Iran, Russia and Assad?

Go deeper

Updated 4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

1 dead after pickup truck hits Pride spectators in Florida

Police investigate the scene where a pickup truck drove into a crowd of people at a Pride parade in Wilton Manors, Florida, on Saturday. Photo: Jason Koerner/Getty Images

A driver in a pickup truck hit spectators at a Pride festival in Wilton Manors, Florida, killing a man and leaving another person hospitalized Saturday, authorities said.

Details: Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis told reporters police had "apprehended the driver" and that the vehicle missed a parade car carrying Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) "by inches."

Updated 7 hours ago - Sports

Uganda Olympic team member tests positive for COVID in Tokyo

The Uganda National boxing team's Catherine Nanziri (L) and others arrive for check-in at Entebbe international airport in Wakiso, Uganda on Friday, ahead of their departure to participate in the Tokyo Olympic Games. Photo: Badru Katumba/AFP via Getty Images

A Uganda Olympic team member tested positive for COVID-19 upon arrival in Japan late Saturday, officials said.

Why it matters: Japan's government has faced criticism for vowing to host the Tokyo Games next month as coronavirus cases rise. The Ugandan team is the second to arrive in Japan after the Australian women's softball players, and this is the first COVID-19 infection detected among the Olympic athletes, Al Jazeera notes.

Updated 11 hours ago - World

In photos: Brazilians rally against Bolsonaro as COVID deaths top 500,000

A June 19 protest in São Paulo, Brazil, against the administration of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who has railed against precautionary health measures despite the soaring COVID-19 death rate and cases. Photo: Rodrigo Paiva/Getty Images

Demonstrators took to the streets in at least 22 of Brazil’s 26 states to protest President Jair Bolsonaro's handling of the pandemic — as deaths from COVID-19 in the country surged past 500,000 Saturday, per AP.

The big picture: Brazil has the world's second-highest coronavirus death toll and third-highest number of reported cases. Only 12% of the country's population has been vaccinated against the virus, AP notes.