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

Sergio Conner
April 14, 2018

Worries about a confrontation between Russia, Syria's big ally, and the West have been running high since Trump said on Wednesday that missiles "will be coming" in response to the attack in the Syrian town of Douma on April 7, and lambasted Moscow for standing by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Trump said yesterday that the raid undermined attorney-client privilege but many legal experts say such sanctity is conditional and if investigators believe the lawyer may be involved in criminal activity, they may seek, obtain, and execute a search warrant, as they did in this case. "Russia vows to shoot down any and all missiles fired at Syria".

At least 60 people were killed and more than 1,000 injured in Saturday's suspected attack on Douma, then still occupied by rebel forces, according to a Syrian relief group.

Zasypkin also said a clash between Russian Federation and the United States over Syria "should be ruled out and therefore we are ready to hold negotiations".

U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May called an emergency Cabinet meeting for Thursday to discuss the British response to the apparent use of chemical weapons in Douma, a town controlled by Syrian rebels. "It would provoke a retaliation operation by government forces and the White Helmets were to use it to stage a provocation with an alleged use of chemical weapons", he said.

In mid-March, weeks before this current crisis began, the chief of Russia's General Staff, Valery Gerasimov, warned publicly that any US strikes that threatened the lives of Russian servicemen in Syria would prompt Russia to fire on not only the missiles, but also their launchers -- implying Russia would potentially open fire on a USA warship that had launched cruise missiles.

Trump, who has often said a commander in chief should never telegraph his military intentions, apparently did so himself, tweeting that missiles "will be coming" in response to the suspected chemical attack that killed at least 40 people near Damascus. The Turkish news agency Yeni Safak reported, citing worldwide relations scholar Zakariye Molahafci, that the United States had designated 22 targets, including Russian sites, in Syria.

The two state news agencies reported said the Russian delegation includes the governor of an oil-rich Siberian region and several lawmakers arrived earlier on Wednesday.

"The Failing New York Times wrote another phony story". Sablin said Assad is in Damascus and is going to meet the Russian delegation.

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The UN Security Council, tasked with maintaining global peace and security, has been riven, with Moscow virulently denying the Douma attack took place, or postulating that it was carried out by rebels. Instead, it cited reports that 70 people who were sheltering in basements were killed, with 43 of the deaths "related to symptoms consistent with exposure to highly toxic chemicals".

"We warned that such actions will not be left without consequences". The Syrian government and its ally Russian Federation have denied that such an attack ever happened.

The RIA Novosti news agency quoted Andrei Krasov, the deputy chairman of the Russian parliament's defense committee, as saying that Russia will treat a US airstrike on Syria "not just as an act of aggression but a war crime of the Western coalition".

Meanwhile, the Russian military said the Syrian government is now in full control of Duoma, once held by rebels opposing Assad.

Around a year ago, Mr Trump responded to a sarin gas airstrike by Mr Assad on civilians by launching 59 missiles at an airfield in western Syria.

The European Organization for the Safety of Air Navigation (Eurocontrol) warned the airlines about the risk of a possible air and missile strikes in Syria.

Asked in a TV interview whether France would join strikes on Syria, Macron said, "We will need to take decisions in due course, when we judge it to be most useful and effective", according to Agence France Presse.

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