Western powers walk legal tightrope with Syria strikes

Syrian President shaking hands with Russian leader Vladimir Putin- Archived

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has warned the Western states against any military action on his homeland.

Russian Federation is a major backer of the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the country's civil war, and strongly opposes the USA claim that Syrian government forces attacked a rebel-held town near Damascus on Saturday with chemical weapons.

Trump had vowed to take swift and decisive action against Syria since reports of a suspected poison gas attack on a rebel enclave that killed dozens of people.

Trump has, however, cast doubt on the timing of the possible military action, saying, "Never said when an attack on Syria would take place". Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova cannot even imagine that either Russian or American blood could be spilt in Syria, she said in an interview with Sky News on Thursday.

During his testimony, Mattis spoke about a possible strike against Syria. Trump wrote in a Thursday morning tweet that an attack could happen "very soon or not so soon at all".

Meanwhile, the Assad regime denies using chemical weapons and called the images from the attack fake.

Macron said Thursday that France has proof that the Syrian government launched chlorine gas attacks and said France would not tolerate "regimes that think everything is permitted".

Russia, she alleged, holds some responsibility in the fact that they had guaranteed that Syria wouldn't use chemical weapons again, which they did.

The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, based in the Netherlands, announced it was sending a fact-finding team to the site of the attack outside Damascus, and it was due to arrive Saturday. Russian President Vladimir Putin called for the creation of a broad global coalition against terrorism during his speech at the United Nations back in 2015, Zakharova reminded, adding that the proposal "is still on the table".

United States president Donald Trump has told Russian Federation to "get ready" for missiles to be fired at Syria, using Twitter to lambast Russian Federation for being "partners with a Gas Killing Animal who kills his people and enjoys it".

France says Syria has maintained a clandestine chemical arms program since 2013 - when Damascus ostensibly signed on to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) - which could encourage the use of such weapons by other repressive regimes.

At stake in Syria is the potential for confrontation, if not outright conflict, between the USA and Russian Federation, former Cold War foes whose relations have deteriorated in recent years over Moscow's intervention in Ukraine, its interference in the 2016 US presidential election and its support for Syrian President Bashar Assad.

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