Published: Sun, April 15, 2018
People | By Neil Grant

US, Britain, France launch air strikes in Syria

US, Britain, France launch air strikes in Syria

"We have information indicating Russian intelligence service interest in the Skripals, dating back at least as far as 2013, when email accounts belonging to Yulia Skripal were targeted by GRU cyber specialists", he said, referring to Russia's foreign military intelligence agency.

The U.S. and its allies have threatened to respond militarily to an alleged chemical attack near Damascus last weekend. A second witness said the Barzah district of Damascus had been hit in the strikes.

A team of inspectors from the OPCW arrived in Syria on Thursday and Friday.

Russian Federation is now discussing a range of countersanctions, though its options are limited: the United States has many more tools to disrupt Russia's economy than vice versa.

The UN Security Council was to meet again Friday, at Russia's request, to try to defuse the standoff, as US President Donald Trump appeared to back away from imminent action, days after warning Russian Federation to "get ready" for missile strikes.

Previously, French President Emmanuel Macron had warned that France may use military force if chemical attacks in Syria are proven. "A lack of accountability emboldens those who would use such weapons by providing them with the reassurance of impunity", the secretary-general said.

Assad says the Western threats endanger global peace and security, and that military action would only contribute to the "further destabilization" of the region.

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called the attack a "crime" but gave no indication of any planned Iranian response.

Trump has repeatedly denied colluding with Russian Federation to influence the election, including Wednesday, when he stated there was "No Collusion or Obstruction (other than I fight back)".

The Eurocontrol airspace organization said that the European Aviation Safety Agency had sent a "Rapid Alert Notification" that flight operations needed to consider the possibility of air or missile strikes into Syria.

The proposed legislation grants the Russian government the authority to take such action, but does not mean that sanctions will be introduced. Syrian activists and rescuers say the attack on Douma killed more than 40 people, allegations denied by the government.

Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Moscow has "irrefutable information that it was another fabrication", after inspection by Russian chemical experts, according to The Associated Press.

A second USA official said targets were being carefully selected with the aim of damaging Assad's ability to conduct further gas attacks, while avoiding the risk of spreading poisonous fallout in civilian areas. 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".

The U.S., France and Britain have been consulting about launching a military strike, and President Donald Trump tweeted Wednesday that missiles "will be coming".

Russian Federation has several dozen warplanes at Hemeimeem air base in Syria, along with an array of state-of-the-art air defense missile systems and the Bastion missile systems protecting the coast.

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

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