World Health Organization demands access to victims of alleged Syria chemical attack


The U.S. did provide Russian Federation with advance warning via military channels shortly prior to the April 2017 missile strike on the Syrian air base believed responsible for a previous chemical weapons attack.

President Donald Trump announced on Friday he ordered strikes on the Syrian regime's chemical weapons facilities in coordination with France and the United Kingdom in response to a chemical weapons attack last weekend.

The United States and several of its allies have focused on Syrian forces as being responsible, while Syria and Russian Federation have denied President Bashar al-Assad's military carried out a chemical attack. He told Russia: "You shouldn't be partners with a Gas Killing Animal who kills his people and enjoys it!"

But a special hotline for the USA and Russian militaries to communicate about operations in Syria is active and being used by both sides, Moscow said Thursday.

In his televised address from the White House on Friday, Trump said the US was prepared to keep up the economic, diplomatic and military pressure on Assad until he ends a pattern of killing his own people with internationally banned chemical weapons.

Syria, which denies carrying out the latest attack, said it had invited the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, which has blamed the regime for previous such incidents, to visit Douma.

Mattis also ignored a question about whether he was concerned about telegraphing U.S. military moves in Syria, a question appearing to refer to Trump's earlier tweet on Wednesday. But any action was blocked by the vote powers of Russian Federation, on one side, and the United States, France and Britain on the other.

But The Times newspaper reports that the UK's Prime Minister Theresa May has urged Mr Trump to provide more evidence of the suspected chemical attack.

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"Final decisions haven't been made yet", press secretary Sarah Sanders said. U.S., British and French attack aircraft, including two U.S. Air Force B-1B strategic bombers, launched stealthy, long-range missiles from outside Syrian airspace, officials said. And on Wednesday he warned Russian Federation it should "get ready" for a missile strike on Syria, vowing to thwart any missile defenses.

As of Saturday, neither Syria nor its Russian or Iranian allies retaliated, Pentagon officials said. The new tweet from President Trump immediately boosted stocks and other risky assets and is being interpreted as a potential climb-down from American military action, which had seemed imminent.

The hellish scenes have played out before in Syria: women and children dead or suffering in agony, the targeted victims of chemical weapons attacks. The warning from Moscow came during a divided meeting of the UN Security Council which failed to pass any measures to set up an inquiry into the alleged attack. Vladimir Shamanov, who chairs the defense committee of the lower house, said the vessels had departed the base for their own safety, which was "normal practice" when there were threats of attack.

"Now we have to make some further decisions, so they will be made fairly soon", added first-term commander-in-chief, who earlier appeared to equivocate on the timing of strikes.

In 2017, Trump launched a cruise missile strike against a Syrian air base in retaliation for a sarin attack the United Nations later pinned on Assad.

White House officials did not reply to a request for more detail on Trump's remarks. "We're still working on this", he said.

The Syrian government and Russian Federation vehemently deny involvement and accuse rebel groups of fabricating the attack to hinder the army's advances and provoke global military intervention.

Liberal Democrat leader Sir Vince Cable said: "The use of chemical weapons is a clear red line, and there must be consequences for crossing it". On Thursday, however, he tweeted: "Never said when an attack on Syria would take place". But we've been such a peripheral player in Syria that we need to demonstrate our ability to inflict real pain on the regime before we'll obtain anything approaching the amount of leverage necessary for a successful negotiation, even assuming one is possible. Macron has been increasingly bullish in his approach to Syria, including with recent efforts to help resolve the conflict in northwestern Syria between Turkey and a faction of Syrian Kurdish forces (the YPG).