West hesitates on Syria response as Russian Federation warns of 'war'

Russia says alleged chemical attack in Syria was 'staged,' UK had 'direct involvement'

Russia says alleged chemical attack in Syria was 'staged,' UK had 'direct involvement'

During a week of tense sabre-rattling, Russian officials periodically warned the USA that a military response may spiral out of control to war.

Loud explosions early yesterday rocked the Syrian capital and filled the sky with heavy smoke after US President Donald Trump announced airstrikes in retaliation for the country's alleged use of chemical weapons.

British Prime Minister Theresa May won backing from her senior ministers on Thursday to take unspecified action with the USA and France to deter further use of chemical weapons by Syria.

"This is grotesque", Pierce said of the Russian statement as she left an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council called by Russia on USA threatened military action in response to the alleged attack.

Worldwide investigators from the global chemical weapons watchdog are in Syria and were due to start their inquiry on Saturday into the suspected toxic gas attack.

Trump has slammed Russian Federation for its partnership with "Gas Killing Animal" Assad, spurring concerns that a US strike could lead to a conflict with Russian Federation, which has major military facilities at Tartus and Khmeimim and works cheek-by-jowl with Syria forces that could be targeted.

Western leaders have been planning a response to Saturday's suspected chemical attack.

There was no word from Putin himself, though Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said Moscow was in contact with Washington to discuss an atmosphere which he described as alarming.

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The Violations Documentation Centre, which records alleged violations of global law in Syria, said bodies were found with foam at the mouth, discoloured skin and burns to the eyes.

There have been calls from opposition parties and some Conservative MPs for Parliament to have a vote beforehand.

He said: "More bombing, more killing, more war will not save life".

The Kremlin said Mr Putin yesterday warned his French counterpart during a telephone call against any "dangerous actions" in Syria. "We can not take such risks", he said at a forum.

Russian deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich took an apparent swipe at Trump's tweets.

On Wednesday, the president tweeted that United States missiles "will be coming" and told Russian Federation, which has forces in Syria, to "get ready". It "could be very soon or not so soon at all".

Also on Thursday, US Secretary of Defence Jim Mattis told a congressional panel: "I believe there was a chemical attack and we are looking for the actual evidence". Pierce said she wanted "to state categorically ... that Britain has no involvement and would never have any involvement in the use of a chemical weapon".

In a televised address announcing the action, Trump said he had chose to take action because last weekend's action by Assad "was a significant attack against his own people", and "not the actions of a man, they are crimes of a monster instead". But the administration appeared determined to deliver on the president's threat to punish the use of poison gas.

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