Airlines warned of possible missile launches into Syria
17 April, 2018, 20:03
US President Donald Trump has tweeted that Russian Federation should "get ready" for missiles to be fired at its ally Syria, in response to an alleged chemical attack near Damascus on Saturday.
Mattis disclosed that the US had not yet confirmed that the most recent suspected Syrian chemical weapons attack, on April 7 in the Damascus suburb of Douma, included the use of sarin gas.
Trumptweeted early Wednesday morning that "nice and new and "smart" missiles would soon be launched at Syria, where the government is believed to be behind a chemical attack on Saturday that left 70 dead and more than 500 others injured. The whiplash is palpable: Trump announced last week that he was seeking to remove USA troops from Syria as soon as possible; today, it's: "Get ready, Russia, because they [missiles] will be coming".
The U.S. missile strike a year ago, which targeted the airfield from which Syrian aircraft had launched their gas attack, was meant to deter Assad from further use of chemical weapons.
USA officials have refused to rule out direct military engagement with Russian Federation, with the White House saying "all options are on the table".
Mrs May is expected to ask her cabinet to approve some level of British participation in military action, led by France and the USA, aimed at Syrian President Bashar al Assad's chemical weapons infrastructure.
But Trump's early morning tweet Wednesday suggested US military action was inevitable.
President Trump speaks during a meeting with senior military leaders at the White House in Washington, D.C., on Monday.
The President also insisted that the U.S. would not remain engaged in Syria forever under any circumstances. The US took care to avoid Russian targets during an air strike in April 2017.
As tensions mounted over a face-off with Damascus-ally Russian Federation, opponents of unilateral United States action called an emergency closed-door meeting of the UN Security Council for Thursday. The US "has sponsored and is still sponsoring terrorism in Syria", the official said.
A spokesman said: "Cabinet agreed it was vital that the use of chemical weapons did not go unchallenged". Trump said on Twitter.
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Iranian and Russian allies are effectively running Syria in his absence, it is claimed. He committed the U.S.to this approach last April when he struck Syrian air bases following a chemical attack on civilians by the Assad regime.
"We're not going to leave until we know we've accomplished those things", she said.
Asked about Macron's comments, White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders stressed that Trump's plans for the region have not changed.
He had repeatedly said he would not telegraph military moves towards foes. However, there was a growing row over whether MPs needed to give the green light for military action.
In another, he painted a dark picture of US-Russia relations but said it did not have to be that way.
The OPCW's fact-finding mission will not seek to establish who was responsible for the attack.
But too intense a response to the latest attack risks escalating the Syrian civil war and exacerbating military tensions between major world powers that all have proxies on the ground, according to analysts.
As it looked to head off the threat of Western strikes, Syria said it had invited the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, which has blamed the regime for previous attacks, to visit the site.
French President Emmanuel Macron said Sunday that France wants to launch a diplomatic initiative over Syria that would include Western powers, Russian Federation and Turkey.
Trump has suggested that he has little doubt that Syrian government forces are to blame for what he says was a chemical attack, but neither he nor other administration officials have produced hard evidence.
In addition to having two destroyers nearby, it is possible the USA also has unacknowledged submarines positioned off the coast of Syria ready to fire satellite-guided, highly precise Tomahawk cruise missiles - the very type of smart missiles the president tweeted about. At one point, he blamed the tensions on Special Counsel Robert Mueller and his investigation into Russian efforts to interfere in the 2016 USA presidential election.
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Ahmed Abed al-Nafaa said helicopters were flying before the attack and when he reached the site, people were screaming "chlorine". After he was revived, he returned to the shelter and found his wife and daughters dead, with foam coming from their mouths.
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The US assesses that the Syrians fired about 40 missiles in retaliation, but none of them endangered the US forces and its allies. Britain says Western powers will study options if Syrian government again uses chemical weapons, but nothing is planned as yet.
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