As US Mulls Options, Russia Says Priority Is to Avoid War

Gladys Abbott
April 16, 2018

The UN Security Council met to debate the strikes but rejected a Russian resolution calling for condemnation of the "aggression" by the three Western allies.

The British cabinet meeting was due to begin at 14.30 GMT.

Meanwhile the Russian Government have said they will act if the United States military decides to launch missiles into Syria as they will have no option but to retaliate and carryout President Putin's orders and shoot down the inbound U.S. missiles.

Defense Secretary Mattis, however, indicated that evidence of what happened was still being studied.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told the Security Council Friday that "there is no military solution to the conflict".

Trump held meetings with his national security advisers and conferred with France and Britain on the Syrian situation throughout the day on April 12.

"So there is no practicable alternative to the use of force to degrade and deter the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime", May said.

Syrian government troops have gained full control of the Douma enclave, the last militant stronghold in Eastern Ghouta, 10km from Damascus, the Russian Defense Ministry says.

Russia's Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova in her response to Trump's tweet said: "Smart missiles should fly towards terrorists, not [Syria's] lawful government, which has spent several years fighting against global terrorism on its territory".

President Assad launched a bloody offensive on Eastern Ghouta along with Russian military assistance.

The Russian military said it had observed movements of US Navy forces in the Gulf.

"The intelligence provided certainly paints a different picture", Sanders said.

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"Given that Trump was supposed to meet with Putin in his home city of St. Petersburg, we invited the new American president to visit us". The US Defense Department said it "does not comment on potential future military actions".

Trump was apparently responding to a statement by Russia's ambassador to Lebanon, Alexander Zasypkin. "Get ready Russian Federation, because they will be coming", Trump tweeted Wednesday morning, in a jab at Russian Federation.

Trump has struggled to align his desire to work with Russian Federation, and Putin more specifically, with increasing areas of conflict and confrontations with America's Cold War rival and an investigation of Russia's interference in the 2016 elections with the goal to help him defeat Hillary Clinton, his Democratic rival. Stop the arms race? Mr. Trump called out Putin along with the leadership in Iran for backing Assad, who he referred to as "Animal Assad".

It comes after UK Prime Minister Theresa May spoke with President Trump and the pair agreed "the Assad regime had established a pattern of unsafe behaviour in relation to the use of chemical weapons".

The World Health Organisation (WHO) said in a Wednesday statement that it is deeply alarmed by reports of the suspected use of toxic chemicals in Douma. "In the long run, it would be more hard for the two countries to work together".

Damascus agreed to hand over its chemical arsenal in 2013, narrowly avoiding American and French air strikes in retaliation for a suspected sarin attack.

The third target was a chemical weapons equipment storage facility and an important command post, also west of Homs, Dunford said. Speaking on TF1 television, Macron said "we have proof that chemical weapons were used, at least chlorine" in recent days by Syrian President Bashar Assad's government.

The President promised never to telegraph military action against an enemy, yet all but showcased a coming missile strike on Syria.

The U.S. and its allies have threatened to take military action in response to an alleged chemical attack last weekend.

Lavrov also hoped that there would be no repeat of the experience of Libya and Iraq in the Syria conflict.

Thursday: Russia's Embassy to Britain tweeted that the chemical attack was "fake" and an attempt to stage a provocation by Syrian extremists and their foreign backers. Syrian activists and rescuers say the attack on Douma killed more than 40 people, allegations denied by the government.

Erdogan says Turkey's warming ties with Russian Federation and Iran are "not an alternative" to its traditional ties to the West, adding that Ankara would "fight until the end" against Russia's support for Syrian President Bashar Assad and against US support to a Syrian Kurdish militia that Ankara has labelled a terrorist group.

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