James Mattis wanted Congress’ approval for Friday’s Syria strike, but was vetoed by Trump

U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis

Department of Defense Secretary James Mattis attempted to get approval from Congress for the Friday strike on Syria in retaliation for its suspected use of chemical weapons against its own citizens, but was vetoed by President Donald Trump, The New York Times reported.

According to military and administration officials who spoke with the Times, Trump wanted to take swift action to back up his tweets earlier in the week, vowing to use “nice and new and smart!” missiles to strike Syria. Military officials warned Trump that if the U.S. was too hostile, an attack could start a larger conflict with Russia. So, the attack on Friday — strikes on three targets related to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s chemical weapons program — was a compromise, according to the Times.

Mattis reportedly pressed for congressional approval because he thinks it’s important to maintain the appearance of public support for military operations.

Mattis reportedly met with lawmakers on Capitol Hill on Tuesday to discuss the airstrikes, which did not hit any Russian troops nor Syrian military units that are believed to be responsible for the suspected chemical gas attack on a rebel-held town near Damascus earlier this month, according to the Times.