Syria chemical attack 'fabrication' by foreign power: Russia

Alexander Zasypkin

Lebanon Alexander Zasypkin

After a meeting with national security advisors Thursday, the White House said it had not yet decided how to respond to last week's suspected chemical attack which the US, France and Britain blame on Bashar al-Assad's regime.

The US ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, said US President Donald Trump "has not yet made a decision about possible actions in Syria".

Tass, in a news story out of the northern Syria city of Homs, quoted lawmaker Dmitry Sablin refuting reports that Assad may have fled Syria.

US President Donald Trump appeared to back away from earlier threats of imminent action and France's Emmanuel Macron on Friday called for stepped-up talks with Moscow.

"We are talking about the moves to either terminate or suspend global cooperation of Russia and Russian legal entities with the United States and organisations that remain under the jurisdiction of the United States, in the nuclear industry, in aircraft building, in rocket and propulsion industry", Melnikov said. Trump had on Monday warned of a quick, forceful response once responsibility for the Syria attack was established.

Before his White House trip, Mattis told reporters that the U.S.is still assessing intelligence as to whether the Assad regime is responsible for the gas attack that killed anti-government rebels and their children. "They are crimes of a monster instead".

Nebenzia was echoing Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who said in a Friday news conference that Russia has "irrefutable evidence" the alleged chemical attack in Syria was "staged".

In Damascus, "hundreds of residents began gathering in the landmark Omayyad Square of the Syrian capital". A second witness said the Barzah district of Damascus had been hit in the strikes.

"If the Syrian regime makes use of this poison gasoline once more, the United States of America is locked and loaded", Haley mentioned. Similarly, Syria reportedly promised to defend itself if attacked, though it's unclear what that means, as they have little capability to wage war against the US.

He said the analysis was done at the request of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.

For the US, undermining the Russian role in Syria is the main goal, while for Israel, eliminating the Iranian role is the main goal.

"To Iran and to Russian Federation, I ask, what kind of a nation wants to be associated with the mass murder of innocent men, women and children?" She described it as a "limited and targeted strike" aimed at minimizing civilian casualties.

He said: "We hope that there will be no point of no return - that the USA and their allies will refrain from military action against a sovereign state".

It was not immediately clear how extensive the strikes were.

At this stage it seems that the USA and allies like France and Saudi Arabia could begin a strike on Syrian forces within the week.

Russia's United Nations ambassador says top priority is to avert war in Syria, doesn't rule out possibility of U.S.

"The situation is pretty bad, but it shouldn't be overdramatized", Alexei Malashenko, a leading Russian expert on Syria said in televised remarks.

Trump did not detail what a strike on Syria would look like, or whether these would be US missiles.

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