United States blames Syria government for gas attack, mulls aggressive strike

Sergio Conner
April 15, 2018

Russian Federation said that the Western powers "cynically" carried out military action hours before a team from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons was set to begin an investigation into the suspected chemical weapons attack in the town of Douma in Eastern Ghouta that sparked the intervention by the USA and its allies. A U.S. guided-missile destroyer, the USS Donald Cook, is in the Mediterranean.

Volunteer first responders and activists claimed a chemical attack by the Syrian government killed more than 40 people in the town of Douma, which drew global outrage and prompted Washington and its allies to consider a military response.

The United States, Britain and France have argued the incident bears all the hallmarks of a strike ordered by the regime of Russia's ally Assad, which has been blamed for previous attacks by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).

Meanwhile, British Prime Minister Theresa May held a special cabinet meeting to consider whether Britain should join the United States and France in possible military action.

The BBC reported that May was ready to give the go-ahead for Britain to take part in military action.

Syria's President Bashar Assad announced after a US military strike that his country would respond, while Russia's ambassador to Washington warned of unspecified "consequences".

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

"Whenever the Syrian army achieves victory in the field, some western countries rise their voices and intensify their movements in an attempt to change the track of events", Assad said, according to SANA.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said any US missile salvo could be an attempt to destroy evidence of the reported gas attack in the Syrian town of Douma, for which Damascus and Moscow have denied any responsibility.

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Skoog said he expects the proposal to be addressed at Thursday's closed-door emergency council meeting on Syria.

Russia's United Nations ambassador warned that US-led strikes could lead to a confrontation between the world's two preeminent nuclear powers.

After US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley promised a response "either way", Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said he feared Washington was looking for a military option.

The Russian ambassador to the UN then warned the United States that it would be better for them "not to undertake any plans they plan to undertake, because Russia will respond adequately".

Putin spoke to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday and urged him to do nothing to destabilise Syria. "Hopefully, someday we'll get along with Russian Federation, and maybe even Iran - but maybe not".

Syria air defenses retaliate after strikes by U.S., British and French forces in Damascus, Syria in this still image obtained from video dated early April 14, 2018.

But the Syria conflict is a complex web of overlapping wars which have drawn in several world powers, and the risk of miscalculation is as high as Trump's Twitter rhetoric is provocative.

Syria's Russian-supplied air defences shot down an Israeli F-16 jet in February during a previous bombing run against what Israel described as Iranian-backed positions in Syria.

Iran, as well as Bashir al-Assad, have reiterated their determination to fight against illegal attacks on Syrian territory and to pursue their strategy against the terrorists in Syria.

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