'Escalation' fears grow as United States ponders Syria strike

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Moscow has information that militants were ordered to launch an offensive in Syria after Washington's possible military action in the country, according to the envoy.

Similarly, French President Emmanuel Macron said he had "proof" that the Syrian government had attacked Douma with chemical weapons, without giving further details. Representatives from the Russian Reconciliation Center for the Opposing Sides examined Douma on April 9, and found no trace of any use of chemical weapons there.

On Wednesday, both oil benchmarks hit their highest since late 2014 after U.S. President Donald Trump warned missiles "will be coming" in response to a suspected gas attack in Syria and after Saudi Arabia said it intercepted missiles over Riyadh.

He said that "intelligence agencies of a state that is now striving to spearhead a Russo-phobic campaign were involved in that fabrication".

The attack has drawn worldwide outrage and prompted the United States and its allies to consider a military strike on Syria, something Moscow has strongly warned against.

As ministers discussed the crisis yesterday, United States officials claimed to have evidence that chlorine gas and a nerve agent were used in a Syrian government attack. Syria's government denies responsibility.

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"Our strategy remains the same as a year ago", he said.

Russian Ambassador to the UN Vasily Nebenzya noted that the USA is apparently playing out a military scenario in Syria, which can have grave consequences for the global security, taking into consideration the fact that Russian military forces are present in the country.

Trump tweeted an attack on Syria "could be very soon or not so soon at all", raising the prospect that an attack might not be as imminent as he seemed to suggest the day before.

The move Friday came as the U.S., France and Britain are in extensive consultations about launching a military strike on Syria in retaliation for suspected chemical weapons attacks.

A Syrian Army solider gestures as a Russian flag is seen on a military vehicle, at the entrance of the Wafideen camp in Damascus on April 12.

Meanwhile, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) says experts are travelling to Syria and will start investigations on Saturday.

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Syria and its ally, Russia, deny any such attack.

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

On Sunday, the day after the attack, the U.S. president said Russian President Vladimir Putin bore responsibility for the "atrocity" in rebel-held Douma, because of his support for the Syrian government.

The government, however, said evacuations from Douma were continuing, and no Syrian government forces had entered the town. The government's capture of Douma, the last town held by the rebels in eastern Ghouta, marked a major victory for Assad. "Not only the use of force, but also a threat to use it violates the UN Charter", Nebenzya said at a meeting of the UN Security Council.

"We continue to observe risky preparations for an illegal military action against a sovereign state in breach of worldwide law".

He said there was a heightened "danger of escalation" because of the Russian military presence in Syria.

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