Russian Federation calls an emergency session to discuss strikes on Syria

Vassily Nebenzia

Moscow, he said, has "irrefutable information that it was another fabrication".

In a televised statement Saturday, UK Prime Minister Theresa May said UK forces had undertaken a "limited and targeted strike" and that there had been "no practicable alternative to the use of force to degrade and deter the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime".

"The immediate priority is to avert the danger of war", said Moscow's United Nations ambassador Vassily Nebenzia on Thursday.

Russia, which has stonewalled diplomatic efforts at the U.N. Security Council, has vehemently denied a chemical attack took place and accused the West of seeking an excuse for military action. According to Syrian medics and a statement by the World Health Organisation, more than 40 people died in an April 7 strike on the former rebel outpost of Douma of symptoms consistent with the use of chemical weapons.

The US and France said they had proof it took place and, alongside the United Kingdom, were considering military retaliation.

Russian Federation has warned the West against attacking Mr Assad, who is also supported by Iran, and said there is no evidence of a chemical attack in Douma, a town near Damascus which had been held by rebels until this month.

The United States, France and Britain defended their military action as legal during the Security Council meeting.

"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.

Sheikh Naim Qassem, deputy leader of the Iranian-backed Hizbollah, told Lebanese daily Al-Joumhouria: "The conditions do not point to a total war happening. unless Mr Trump and (Israeli leader) Benjamin Netanyahu completely lose their minds".

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Some national leaders appeared anxious to avert a showdown between the U.S. and Russian Federation.

Russia, which has military forces deployed in Syria in support of the government, warned that U.S. air strikes risked starting a war.

But he appeared conciliatory yesterday.

As fears of a Russia confrontation with Western powers mount, French President Emmanuel Macron expressed his "deep concerns" over the situation in Syria in a phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The US State Department said the United States has proof at "a very high level of confidence" that the Syrian government carried out the attack but is still working to identify the mix of chemicals used. "We warned that such actions will not be left without consequences".

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she supported the military action.

Trump had also said last week that Putin bore responsibility for the "atrocity" in Douma. A French frigate, UK Royal Navy submarines laden with cruise missiles and the U.S.S Donald Cook, an American destroyer equipped with Tomahawk land attack missiles, have all moved into range of Syria's sun-bleached coast.

"The escalation of the situation around Syria has a devastating impact on the whole system of worldwide relations", he added.

"We are continuing to assess intelligence and are engaged in conversations with our partners and allies", it added. Syria's civil war, which began as a popular uprising against Assad, is now in its eighth year.

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