Trump warns Russia, Syria that missiles 'will be coming' in tweet

The UN Security Council meets in New York April 9 2018

Trump warns Russia, Syria that missiles 'will be coming' in tweet

President Donald Trump's national security team has met to discuss the US response to the Syrian government's apparent use of chemical weapons on its own people.

It remains hard to place an exact figure on the number of people killed and wounded Saturday on the outskirts of Damascus, a development that has pushed the United States and its allies to the verge of military confrontation in Syria.

In an earlier Wednesday tweet, Trump said that there was "So much Fake News about what is going on in the White House".

Prime Minister Theresa May has echoed the USA president and has said "if it is the responsibility of Assad's regime then it's yet another example of the brutality and brazen disregard for their people they show".

Mr Trump has said the apparent poison gas attack in Syria will be "met forcefully", but did not give a time-frame for any retaliatory action, and he cancelled a foreign trip on Tuesday to manage the crisis.

Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said "there are Russians present in large numbers in Syria, and Russia will do everything to protect its people on Syrian soil".

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Meanwhile, former Prime Minister Tony Blair has told ITV News "if a chemical attack takes place and we have said as an global community this is unacceptable, it is a red line... frankly if you don't take action then you give carte blanche to the Assad regime and their backers, the Russians and the Iranians".

Opposition activists say 40 people, including children, died in a rebel-held town near Damascus on Saturday.

Last year, the United States launched strikes from two Navy destroyers against a Syrian air base. It's armed with Tomahawk cruise missiles, the weapon of choice in a US attack one year ago on an airfield in Syria following an alleged sarin gas attack on civilians.

Iran is one of Syria's strongest backers and has sent thousands of troops and allied militiamen to support Syrian forces.

At the United Nations, meanwhile, Russian Federation vetoed a USA -drafted U.N. resolution that would have condemned the suspected gas attack and established a new body to determine responsibility for Syrian chemical weapons attacks.

Russian Federation was joined by Bolivia in voting "no" at the Security Council in NY on Tuesday afternoon, while China abstained.

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The term "smart" missile dates to the introduction decades ago of weapons with advanced guidance systems - for example, using GPS - to achieve greater precision in targeting.

This reflects a view in the White House that deeper Russian and Iranian involvement in Syria have complicated calculations about a response to any USA military attack. That attack was widely blamed on government forces, who denied responsibility.

"If Russia and other parties, including the (Syrian) regime believe that they were not involved in this attack then they have nothing to fear from the independent investigation the United Nations is seeking", she told ABC radio.

Inspectors from the watchdog the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) were planning to travel to Syria after receiving an invitation from the Assad regime, but it was unclear whether they would be allowed to reach Douma, and whether their presence there would delay US-led military action.

The US draft condemned the suspected attack by the Assad regime in Douma, demanded immediate access for humanitarian workers to the region and called for an inquiry.

Rebels have now been evacuating the town under an agreement involving the Russian military.

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Asked in Berlin about the Russian proposal that OPCW experts visit Douma, German Chancellor Angela Merkel responded unenthusiastically, saying that "the evidence that chemical weapons were used there is very, very clear".

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