Syria 'chemical attack': USA weighs up military response

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A joint military operation, possibly with France rather than the the lead, could send a message of worldwide unity about enforcing the prohibitions on chemical weapons and counter Syria's political and military support from Russian Federation and Iran.

"No one has empowered western leaders to take the role of a global policeman and simultaneously of investigators, attorneys, judges and executioners". The Syrian government has denied the allegations.

"Our military specialists have visited this place. and they did not find any trace of chlorine or any other chemical substance used against civilians", Lavrov said. She said Russian Federation would ensure the monitors' security.

British Minister Davis said his decision then to vote against the action was based on a lack of clear evidence and a lack of a clear plan.

The Russian Foreign Ministry also claimed that following Syrian rebels' withdrawal from the eastern Ghouta suburbs of Damascus, stockpiles of chemical agents were allegedly found there.

Iran is a key ally of Syrian President Bashar Assad and has sent thousands of troops and allied militiamen to support his forces. The government, however, said evacuations from Douma were ongoing and no Syrian government forces had entered the town.

Russia imported $12.5 billion worth of USA products in 2017, according to official Russian customs data. "We expect this to become a push for the development of the Russian economy", Melnikov said.

Macron said Thursday that France would not tolerate "regimes that think everything is permitted". After a purported chemical weapons attack in Syria, he allowed a USA missile strike on a Syrian air base go unanswered, apparently trying to leave the door open for better relations with Washington.

Looming over the military planning are questions about how effective a punitive strike - no matter how broad - will be in deterring Assad from resuming chemical attacks.

French President Emmanuel Macron said France contributed to the US -led Syrian attacks because the "red line declared by France in May 2017 has been crossed".

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"This is hard to do in a situation like this", he said, in light of the volatility of chemical agents.

Syrian opposition activists and medics say a suspected gas attack last week in Douma killed more than 40 people.

The investigators, who are only mandated to determine if chemical weapons were used and not who used them, were expected to start their investigations into the Douma incident on Saturday, the Netherlands-based organization said. She said she spoke Thursday with French President Emmanuel Macron.

"But also it's a very, very delicate circumstance and we've got to make this judgment on a very careful, very deliberate, very well thought-through basis".

Russian Federation said on Saturday it would consider supplying S-300 surface to-air missile systems to Syria following the Western strikes, but this was not discussed at the meeting with Assad, agencies reported.

On Friday, Vladimir Putin's press secretary, Dmitry Peskov, told reporters that Kremlin officials have not studied the State Duma proposal on reciprocal sanctions in detail, but said that "it is possible to assume with confidence that any measures that will be taken would not hurt Russia's national interests".

"We believe that would have an extremely destructive impact on the whole Syria settlement process".

Also, Russia's Ambassador to Lebanon Alexander Zasypkin said Wednesday that his country would respond to any USA missiles fired at Syria by shooting them down and targeting their launch sites.

At the House hearing, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, a Democrat of Hawaii, disputed Trump's legal authority to act without congressional authority and suggested that a US strike would lead to war with Russian Federation.

On Friday, the President told Americans the recent chemical attack in rebel-held Douma was "not the actions of a man, they are crimes of a monster instead".