West hesitates on Syria response as Russian Federation warns of 'war'

Russia says Syria chemical attack 'staged' with help of foreign secret service

Russia says Syria chemical attack 'staged' with help of foreign secret service

Russia's defense ministry said on Saturday that the majority of missiles fired during the overnight attack on Syria by U.S., British and French forces were intercepted by Syrian government air defense systems, TASS news agency reported.

"A pre-designed scenario is being implemented", Russian Ambassador Anatoly Antonov said on Twitter.

The UN Security Council was to meet again Friday, at Russia's request, to try to defuse the standoff, as US President Donald Trump appeared to back away from imminent action, days after warning Russian Federation to "get ready" for missile strikes.

Russia's United Nations ambassador warned that US-led strikes could lead to a confrontation between the world's two preeminent nuclear powers.

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.

"The US - the possessor of the biggest arsenal of chemical weapons - has no moral right to blame other countries".

The Elysee palace said in a statement that Macron had also expressed regret about Russia's use of its Security Council veto on the attack.

The Russian military says that an alleged chemical attack in Syria was staged and directed by Britain.

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But this was balanced by a warning from France's ambassador to the U.N., Francois Delattre, who told the Security Council that the Syrian government's decision to use chemical weapons again meant they had "reached a point of no return".

Trump administration officials told The Associated Press in February they believed forces loyal to Assad might have been in the process of working on new or more refined chemical weapons.

US officials suspect the Russia-backed Assad regime is behind the attack.

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.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said earlier that Moscow was in contact with Washington to discuss an atmosphere he described as alarming.

"The immediate priority is to avert the danger of war", said Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia.

On the ground in Syria, rebels in Eastern Ghouta surrendered their heavy weapons and their leader left the enclave, signaling the end of one of the bloodiest assaults of the seven-year war and a major win for the Assad regime.

Across Western capitals opposition to military action also grew.

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