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UN envoy says no decision yet on Syria

14 Avril 2018

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says he has urged calm and efforts to restitute peace in Syria during separate calls this week with U.S. President Donald Trump and Russia's President Vladimir Putin.

But other advisers wanted to use the opportunity to convince Trump, who wants to pull U.S. forces out of Syria once the Islamic State group is defeated, to take a tough stance.

Russian Federation has accused the West of staging the reported chemical attack in war-torn Syria.

Russia's U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia told the U.N. Security Council on Friday that the United States, France and Britain were only interested in ousting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government and containing Russian Federation.

He is troubled by the similarly gruesome pictures of suffocating children, but his tougher stance this time is driven in part by his hardened view of Putin and his belief that Assad did not learn a lesson from the first strike, officials said.

The United States on Friday blamed the Syrian government for a deadly chemical weapons attack this month and slammed Russian Federation for failing to stop its ally, President Bashar al-Assad, as Western allies considered military strikes on Syria.

Trump said he was prepared to sustain the response until Assad's government stopped its use of chemical weapons.

"This is grotesque, it is a blatant lie, it is the worst piece of fake news we've yet seen from the Russian propaganda machine", said Britain's United Nations ambassador Karen Pierce.

The Syrian foreign ministry said the US-led strikes would only "lead to inflaming tensions in the world" and threaten global security. "We warned that such actions will not be left without consequences", Antonov said.

Senior lawmakers in the State Duma, which is dominated by Kremlin loyalists, said they had prepared the list ranging from food and alcohol to medicine and consulting services in response to Washington's move last week.

"Insulting the President of Russian Federation is unacceptable and inadmissible", he added.

"All nations and all people will be harmed if we allow Assad to normalize the use of chemical weapons".

The latter course would make Russian President Putin appear weak and until now he's been successful in avoiding having to choose to back down or escalate when confronting the West, Eyal said, "Set aside the bluster that comes from Moscow and they are far, far less secure about how this will play out in the next few days".

Overnight, US, British and French forces launched more than 100 missiles from ships and manned aircraft, targeting three of Syria's main chemical weapons facilities.

The Damascus sky lights up missile fire as the USA launches an attack on Syria targeting different parts of the capital early Saturday, April 14, 2018. The Kremlin s ambassador to Beirut vowed that Russian forces would try to shoot down any USA missiles.

While claims leaked that the USA has selected eight potential targets, including two airfields, a research facility and a chemical weapons facility, Russian sources hinted at counterattack on US vessels.

Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the Kremlin would need some time to study the proposal but noted that no steps would be taken that would harm Russian interests.

But relations have instead soured over mounting evidence of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, Russia's alleged poisoning of a former double agent in Britain and Putin's support of Assad's government in Syria.

Warships and submarines of the Russian naval task force were keeping track at a close distance of US and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation assault ships and submarines in the area, Tass said, citing military and diplomatic sources.

Syrian surface to air missile batteries had attempted to fire back, but there were no initial reports of allied losses, he added.

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.

Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah says Monday's attack on the T4 air base ushers in a new phase that puts Israel in a state of "direct confrontation" with the Islamic Republic of Iran.

It gives the government the power to ban cooperation with the United States on atomic power, rocket engines and aircraft making, and to bar USA firms from taking part in Russian privatisation deals.

UN envoy says no decision yet on Syria