Russia: Britain staged fake chemical attack in Syria

US President Donald Trump's threat of military retaliation in Syria have raised risks of a direct confrontation with Russia

US President Donald Trump's threat of military retaliation in Syria have raised risks of a direct confrontation with Russia

"We have a very high confidence that Syria was responsible and, once again, Russia's failure to stop them and their continued (lack of action) on this front has been part of the problem", White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said.

As worldwide chemical weapons experts travelled to Syria to investigate a suspected gas attack by government forces which killed dozens of people, French President Emmanuel Macron spoke to Russia's Vladimir Putin and expressed concern about a worsening situation.

"We continue to observe unsafe military preparations for an illegal act of force against a sovereign state", Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia told the Security Council. "I can't go beyond that", Sanders told reporters. The medics, however, said none of the patients had any symptoms of chemical poisoning, according to the statements.

Russia's U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia insisted that there was "no credible confirmation of toxic substance use in Douma", adding that "we have information to believe that what took place is a provocation with the participation of certain countries' intelligence services".

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There was no word from Putin himself, though Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Moscow was in contact with Washington to discuss an atmosphere which he described as alarming.

"God forbid anything adventurous will be done in Syria along the lines of the Libyan and Iraqi experience", Lavrov told a news conference, referring to past Western military interventions elsewhere in the region.

Inspectors from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons are expected to arrive in Syria over the weekend to investigate the reported attack, following an invitation from Damascus. The government's capture of Douma, the last town held by the rebels in eastern Ghouta, marked a major victory for Assad.

Russian officials had said before the alleged attack in Douma that the rebels in Damascus suburbs were plotting chemical attacks to blame the Syrian government and set the stage for the US strike.

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The Russian defence ministry said today that none of the Western strikes in Syria had hit areas covered by Russia's air defences around its air base and naval facility.

Any U.S. strike would probably involve the Navy.

In Geneva, U.N. war crimes investigators condemned on Friday the suspected use of chemical weapons in Douma and called for evidence to be preserved with a view to future prosecutions.

In April a year ago Trump ordered Tomahawk strikes on the Shayrat Airbase in response to a similar chemical weapons attack on rebel-held Khan Sheikhoun.

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