Strikes Hit Syria as Country Had 'chance for Peaceful Future': Moscow

By Anthony Deutsch

By Anthony Deutsch

"The immediate priority is to avert the danger of war", Moscow's United Nations ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said on Thursday.

"The situation is aggravated by multiple points of tension and repeated similar cases, in Syria as with Skripal", said Boris Toucas of the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

In interviews broadcast by the pro-government Al-Ikhbaria television channel, 13 medical workers, including nine doctors, said the symptoms they treated suggested that the patients were suffering from asthma, not the effects of a poison gas.

"I don't think we're at the Cuban missile crisis level, but we're getting pretty damn close", Russian Federation expert Boris Zilberman of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies told AFP.

Russian Defence Ministry Spokesman Igor Konashenkov said the military had "proof that testifies to the direct participation of Britain in the organising of this provocation in eastern Ghouta".

"We warned that such actions will not be left without consequences".

In a statement issued by the Kremlin, the Russian leader says Moscow is calling an emergency meeting of the United Nations' Security Council over the strike launched by the US, Britain and France.

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The White House says it is continuing to assess intelligence and talk to its allies on how to respond.

Members of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) will arrive in Douma, Syria, on Saturday to investigate the alleged use of chemical weapons there.

The suspected poison attack by the Syrian government forces that allegedly killed over 40 people, according to volunteer first responders and activists, has drawn global outrage and prompted the US and its allies to consider a military response.

"We had an early warning of the strike from the Russians ... and all military bases were evacuated a few days ago", the official said.

President Assad has been backed in the seven-year-long Syrian war by Russia, Iran, and Iran-backed groups, including Lebanon's Hezbollah.

"We are carrying out an assessment of the material damages", the official added.

Moscow blamed the delay on the air strikes, in which the United States, France and Britain targeted what the Pentagon said were three chemical weapons facilities.

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Although he didn't provide the evidence, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the Kremlin has "irrefutable data" that the attack in Douma, that killed at least 75 people, was staged.

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

Mr Trump, who has cancelled a planned trip overseas, has been canvassing support for strikes from the leaders of France and the UK.

By Wednesday, as Russian and Syrian forces took charge of the formerly rebel-held area that was bombed, Trump was explicitly threatening on Twitter to launch more missiles. It "could be very soon or not so soon at all", he said.

He said: "We're having a number of meetings today, we'll see what happens". We have to make some further decisions.

The US-led strikes did nothing to alter the strategic balance or dent Assad's supremacy and the Western allies have said the aim was to prevent the further use of chemical weapons, not to intervene in the civil war or topple Assad.

French President Emmanuel Macron expressed his "deep concerns" over the deterioration of the situation in Syria in a phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

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