Syrian Observatory: Assad Forces Empty Airports and Military Bases

If the USA action follows the pattern of a previous punitive strike on Syria ordered by Trump past year it will begin with a salvo of cruise missiles fired from U.S. warships in the Mediterranean.

Mr Trump said on Twitter Russia should not be partners with "a Gas Killing Animal", seemingly referring to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said any U.S. 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.

In wake of President Donald Trump's threats to possibly ramp up military action against Syria this week in response to an alleged chemical attack in Douma, the Syrian military has repositioned some air assets, the Reuters news agency reported, citing U.S. officials.

Trump cancelled a planned trip to Latin America where he was due on Friday to focus instead on responding to the Syria incident, the White House said.

The Syrian state news agency called the threat of a missile strike "reckless escalation". Opposition activists and rescuers say at least 40 people were killed.

Syria on Wednesday called USA threats to attack it "reckless" and said they display a lack of "wisdom and logic" and endanger worldwide peace and security. The WHO said in a statement Wednesday that, according to reports from its partners, "an estimated 500 patients presented to health facilities exhibiting signs and symptoms consistent with exposure to toxic chemicals".

World Health Organization spokesman Tarik Jasarevic tells VOA the agency can not verify reports of the use of toxic substances last Saturday in Douma because the World Health Organization has no direct access to the area. Rami Abdulrahman, the head of the organization, tells NPR they have documented 21 cases where people died "from suffocation", and could not confirm the cause. This is in contrast to an incident one year ago in which US intelligence agencies had video and other evidence of certain aspects of the actual attack, which involved the use of sarin gas.

The U.S., France and Britain have been in extensive consultations about launching a military strike as early as the end of this week, U.S. officials have said. Syria denies the accusation.

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Trump changed his tone in another tweet that was posted some 40 minutes later, calling for a better relationship with Russian Federation.

The heightened tensions follow reports of a new chemical attack in the rebel-held city of Douma, not far from Damascus, which has prompted a global outcry against the heavy civilian casualties from the Syrian regime's bombing campaign in the area.

Earlier, French President Emmanuel Macron gave the impression that a final decision on a potential retaliatory target would not be made for a few days.

Moscow opposes any Western strike on its close ally and has vetoed Security Council action on Syria 12 times since the war in Syria started.

"Much of the bad blood with Russia is caused by the Fake & Corrupt Russia Investigation", tweeted Trump, who has been accused of being overly indulgent to Russian President Vladimir Putin. The OPCW is based in The Hague.

Bouthaina Shaaban told al-Mayadeen that the Syrian government and its main ally Russian Federation had made preparations after Israel's strike on Sunday against the T-4 airfield near Homs, the channel reported. Her predecessor, David Cameron, unexpectedly lost a vote on military action after a Syrian chemical weapons attack in 2013, leading the pull back from action as well.

President Trump on Tuesday warned that the US was prepared to take "forceful" action. Most have been against the Islamic State terror group.

The Russian military has already begun jamming some smaller United States military drones operating in the skies over Syria, which according to Pentagon officials has affected American military operations.

Mario Ritter adapted this story from VOA News for VOA Learning English. Write to us in the Comments section, and visit our Facebook page.

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