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Russia says West only interested in overthrowing Assad

Russia says West only interested in overthrowing Assad

Russian Federation called for a public meeting of the Security Council for Friday and requested that UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres brief the top UN body on the crisis.

The British cabinet meeting was due to begin at 14.30 GMT.

With punitive U.S. military action seemingly imminent, Russian Federation scrambled to deflect blame from Syria's Bashar al-Assad and, according to a monitor group, regime forces evacuated key defense buildings in Damascus.

"A perfectly executed strike", President Donald Trump tweeted Saturday in the aftermath of his second decision in two years to fire missiles against Syria.

Defense Secretary Mattis, however, indicated that evidence of what happened was still being studied.

The United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres did not strongly condemn or praise the airstrikes, instead urging "all Member States to show restraint in these unsafe circumstances and to avoid any acts that could escalate the situation and worsen the suffering of the Syrian people".

Trump held meetings with his national security advisers and conferred with France and Britain on the Syrian situation throughout the day on April 12.

"There have been 20-plus incidents of chemical weapons use", said Rebecca Hersman, a former top Pentagon official now at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

"We will facilitate the arrival of the team to anywhere they want, in Douma, to check whether or not there was use of chemical substances", Syrian Ambassador Bashar Jaafari said. "From the point of view of the president, this was aggression and we share this position", Russia's TASS news agency quoted lawmaker Sergei Zheleznyak as saying after the meeting with Assad.

Russian Ambassador to the United Nations Vassily Nebenzia (left) and Bolivia's Ambassador to the United Nations Sacha Sergio Llorenty Soliz speak at the U.S. headquarters in New York, April 12, 2018. The US says it suspects that sarin gas also was used.

"The intelligence provided certainly paints a different picture", Sanders said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by phone on Wednesday and urged him to do nothing to destabilise Syria.

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The strikes were over by the time Mattis and the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff Joseph Dunford appeared before reporters at the Pentagon to share the first details, which had been telegraphed by the USA president days before.

Trump was apparently responding to a statement by Russia's ambassador to Lebanon, Alexander Zasypkin. Get ready Russian Federation, because they will be coming, nice and new and "smart!", he threatened.

At the House hearing, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, disputed Trump's legal authority to act without congressional authority and suggested a US strike would lead to war with Russian Federation. Stop the arms race?

French President Emmanuel Macron said in a statement that a target of the strike was the Syrian government's "clandestine chemical arsenal". He said any big tragedy can occur in the world any time. "In the long run, it would be more hard for the two countries to work together".

Neither the Kremlin nor the Russian government has said if they back the measures, and it was not clear if it would become law in its current form.

White Helmets first-responders and Syrian activists have claimed the suspected chemical attack was carried out by the Syrian government on April 7 and killed more than 40 people in Douma, allegations that drew global outrage and prompted Washington and its allies to consider a military response.

Dunford said the USA did not coordinate targets with or notify the Russian government of the strikes, beyond normal airspace "de-confliction" communications. Western states are thought to be preparing for missile strikes in response to the alleged attack.

At stake in Syria is the potential for confrontation, if not outright conflict, between the US and Russian Federation, former Cold War foes whose relations have deteriorated in recent years over Moscow's intervention in Ukraine, its interference in the 2016 USA presidential election and its support for Syrian President Bashar Assad. But on Thursday, Trump tweeted: "Never said when an attack on Syria would take place".

The Syrian Foreign Ministry has denied the accusation, calling rebels' claims "premeditated pretexts".

The White House said such targeted sanctions would help to ensure that Russian oligarchs profiting from the Kremlin's destabilising activities, including its interference of Western democratic elections in 2016 and 2017, would face consequences for their actions. There was no immediate confirmation or indication from Assad's government that Syrian troops entered the once-rebel-held town of Douma on Thursday.

Syrian militants and their families have also been evacuated from Douma via humanitarian corridors as part of a Russia-brokered deal which saw militant prisoners being released.