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Syria dispute boosts risk of USA and Russian Federation clash
16 April 2018, 02:37 | Dale Webster
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Russian Federation has called for an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council, and is considering supplying new S-300 missile systems to its ally Syria - which it recently declined to do so, under pressure from the West.
Simultaneously, France's Leader Emmanuel Macron was quoted stating he has in his possession "proof" that "Syrian authorities targeted private citizens inside Douma using chemical substance weapons" recently.
President Donald Trump on Saturday declared "Mission Accomplished" for a USA -led allied missile attack on Syria's chemical weapons program, but the Pentagon said the pummeling of three chemical-related facilities left enough others intact to enable the Assad government to use banned weapons against civilians if it chooses.
Trump chastised Syria's two main allies, Russia and Iran, for their roles in supporting "murderous dictators", and noted that Russian President Vladimir Putin had guaranteed a 2013 global agreement for Assad to get rid of all of his chemical weapons.
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". Trump wrote on Twitter after having warned Russian Federation the previous day to "get ready" for missile strikes that he said "will be coming".
A Downing Street spokesperson added: "They agreed it was vital that the use of chemical weapons did not go unchallenged, and on the need to deter the further use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime".
Russian Ambassador to the U.N. Vassily Nebenzia said the USA and allies have demonstrated a blatant disregard for worldwide law.
The prospect of Western military action in Syria that could lead to confrontation with Russian Federation hung over the Middle East yesterday but there was no clear sign that a United States-led attack was imminent.
Putin also reaffirmed Russia's view that the alleged chemical attack in the Syrian town of Douma that prompted the strike was a fake.
He noted that the Russian and US militaries have a hotline to prevent incidents, adding that it's not clear if it would be sufficient amid mounting tensions.
"We warned that such actions will not be left without consequences".
Trump's tweet was reacting to a warning from Russian Federation that any U.S. missiles fired at Syria over the deadly assault on Saturday on the rebel enclave of Douma near Damascus would be shot down and the launch sites targeted.
Russia's diplomats and military officers issued numerous contradictory statements about the chemical attack, saying it didn't happen, that it launched by Syrian rebels on themselves, and that British intelligence ordered it as a provocation.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said earlier that Moscow was in contact with Washington to discuss an atmosphere he described as alarming.
USA officials have refused to rule out direct military engagement with Russian Federation, with the White House saying "all options are on the table".
Trump's handling of the American response to the April 7 chemical attack blamed on the Assad regime is emerging as a test of his self-portrayal as a more decisive commander-in-chief than his predecessors.
"Insulting the President of Russian Federation is unacceptable and inadmissible", the statement continued.
His comments raised fears of direct conflict over Syria for the first time between the two world powers backing opposing sides in the seven-year-old civil war, which has aggravated instability across the Middle East.
Assad is supported by Iranian-back fighters as well as the Russian air force and has cemented his control over most of the western, more heavily populated, part of the country. It said another attack with "a number of missiles" targeting a scientific research center destroyed a building and caused other material damage but no human losses.
The capture of Douma has clinched a major victory for Assad, crushing what was once a centre of the insurgency near Damascus, and underlines his unassailable position in the war.
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