Britain Considers Military Action Against Syria

Katrina Barker
April 16, 2018

Moscow on Thursday called on the West to "seriously consider" the consequences of threats against Syria after the USA and France said they would respond to an alleged chemical attack.

The same officials say Syria has continued to produce or procure chlorine, which also has industrial and agricultural uses.

In response, Maria Zakharova, Russia's foreign ministry spokesperson, said allegations of the use of chemical weapons in Douma were false and could not be used as a pretext to undertake any military action against Syria.

"We have not yet made any decision to launch military attacks into Syria", Mattis told lawmakers on the House Armed Services committee.

May has said that Russia's veto at the Security Council of a vote to create a new inquiry on chemical attacks meant the United Nations could have no role in investigations. That meant airstrikes, possibly in tandem with France and other allies that have expressed outrage at the alleged Syrian chemical attack, could be launched within hours of a presidential decision.

"France will shoulder its responsibility to end an intolerable threat to our collective security", said French Ambassador Francois Delattre, who called for an end to the "chemical weapons escalation in Syria".

A global chemical weapons watchdog says it has deployed fact-finding teams to investigate a suspected chemical attack that hit Douma, a town in Syria's Eastern Ghouta and the last rebel stronghold.

Blood and urine samples from victims of the attack have tested positive for chlorine and an unknown nerve agent, NBC News reports. Trump said Thursday on Twitter.

The statement made no specific reference to military action.

At the House hearing, Democrats grilled Mattis on the wisdom and legality of Trump ordering an attack on Syria without explicit authorization from Congress. Mattis argued it would be justified as an act of self-defense, with 2,000 USA ground troops in Syria; he insisted he could not talk about military plans because an attack "is not yet in the offing".

"So striking at Syria is not a good solution, but doing nothing after the use of chemical weapons is even worse", he said.

"On a strategic level, it's how do we keep this from escalating out of control, if you get my drift on that", he said. More broadly, he doubted the wisdom of bombing.

"Just imagine the scenario if an American missile shoots down a Russian plane, or vice-a-versa - where do we go from there?"

Assad's main ally Russian Federation has repeatedly issued warnings to the United States that it will shoot back at missiles, warships and jets if they strike against Syria, bringing the USA and Russian Federation into direct conflict for the first time.

During the two-hour meeting yesterday afternoon, ministers agreed to join forces with the USA and France to prevent Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad's forces from launching an "appalling and inhumane" attack again. Russia's ambassador to Lebanon said any missiles fired at Syria would be shot down and the launching sites targeted - a stark warning of a potential major confrontation.

"I'm not ready to speculate that that would happen", Mattis said.

Other reports by AllAboutTopnews

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