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Analysis: Putin unlikely to leave strike on Syria unanswered

"This is grotesque", Pierce said of the Russian statement as she left an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council called by Russia on USA threatened military action in response to the alleged attack.

The decision to strike, after days of deliberations, marked Trump's second order to attack Syria; he authorized a barrage of Tomahawk cruise missiles to hit a single Syrian airfield in April 2017 in retaliation for Assad's use of sarin gas against civilians. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said Friday that Britain was "directly involved in the provocation", but didn't elaborate or provide evidence.

President Donald Trump says the United States has "launched precision strikes" on targets associated with Syrian chemical weapons program.

French President Emmanuel Macron also said he had "proof" that the Syrian government had attacked Douma with chemical weapons.

The presence of Russian troops and air defenses in Syria were among numerous complications weighing on Trump, who must also consider the dangers to roughly 2,000 American troops in the country if Russia were to retaliate for USA strikes.

According to a statement of the French presidency, Macron calls for dialogue between France and Russian Federation to "continue and intensify" to bring peace and stability to Syria. "We warned that such actions will not be left without consequences". Putin and Macron instructed their foreign and defence ministers to maintain close contact to "de-escalate the situation", the Kremlin said.

"Again, we are being threatened".

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Trump said the U.S.is prepared to "sustain" pressure on Assad until he ends what the president called a criminal pattern of killing his own people with internationally banned chemical weapons.

The prospect of Western military action in Syria that could lead to a confrontation with Russian Federation hung over the Middle East but there was no clear sign that a US-led attack was imminent.

Another senior official said Trump and his aides had largely settled on a consensus view on what strategy to take and that work continued on the timing and coordination with allies who plan to participate. "It's some of the worst piece of fake news we've yet seen from the Russian Federation propaganda machine".

Anything is possible when the missiles start flying, but the USA and Russian Federation have a system for avoiding this scenario - it's known as the deconfliction hotline.

Volunteer first responders and activists claimed a chemical attack by the Syrian government killed over 40 people in the town of Douma, which drew global outrage and prompted Washington and its allies to consider a military response. On Wednesday, the US President said the missiles were "coming", but on Thursday he tweeted that he had "never said when".

"Obviously, deaths with chemical weapons are a real tragedy, a disaster, but on the other hand when barrel bombs with conventional weapons drop, they do not distinguish between people, children, women, elderly and they kill all of them mercilessly", he said.

Speaking to reporters in Moscow, Mr Lavrov reiterated a strong warning to the West against military action in Syria, saying it would increase flows of refugees into Europe.

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