US President Donald Trump appears to have rolled back somewhat on his threat to target Syria with a missile strike.
In a Tweet yesterday, President Trump warned Russia to “get ready” for a missile strike in response to lat weekends alleged chemical weapons attack.
The attack on the rebel-held city of Douma killed some 70 people and injured up to 500 more.
Both the Kremlin and the Syrian regime deny that the gas attack took place or that either regime was involved.
In his tweet yesterday, President Trump said US missiles “will be coming, nice and new and “smart!”
He added: “You shouldn’t be partners with a Gas Killing Animal who kills his people and enjoys it!”
The tweet significantly increased the tension surrounding what is already a hugely volatile situation – and last night the White House said the president was still assessing the American response – with all options remaining on the table.
He had already pledged a “forceful” response to the alleged attack.
In a tweet today, the US president said he “Never said when an attack on Syria would take place” adding that it “could be very soon or not so soon at all.”
Never said when an attack on Syria would take place. Could be very soon or not so soon at all! In any event, the United States, under my Administration, has done a great job of ridding the region of ISIS. Where is our “Thank you America?”
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 12, 2018
The UN Security Council is meeting behind closed doors today to discuss the threat of military action against Syria.
Meanwhile, Russian military police have started patrolling the site of last weekend's alleged chemical attack on the city of Douma in the Eastern Ghouta countryside outside Damascus over the weekend.
Syrian government forces have regained full control of the city as the international community considers its response.
The British Prime Minister Theresa May, 11-04-2018. Image: Christopher Furlong/PA Wire/PA Images
The British Prime Minister Theresa May has called emergency meeting of her cabinet amid reports she is ready to give the green light for the UK to join any military action.
French President Emanuel Macron has called for a “strong, united and resolute” response.
Russia has threatened to respond firmly to any military action against the Syrian Government.
The country’s president has Vladimir Putin has called for a calming of tensions.
“The situation in the world is getting more chaotic,” he said.
“Nevertheless, we hope that common sense will prevail and international relations will become constructive; the whole of the world system will become stable and predictable.”
Mr Putin has also talked to the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, urging him not to take action to destabilise Syria and threaten its security.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, foreground, and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in the Kremlin in Moscow, 11-04-2018. Image: Sergei Ilnitsly/AP/Press Association Images
Mrs May is expected to ask her cabinet to approve a form of British participation in action led by France and the US, aimed at Syrian President Bashar al Assad's chemical weapons infrastructure.
It appears the British Parliament will not be consulted ahead of the UK action - which could potentially start within hours of Cabinet approval.
That would prove controversial, after opposition parties demanded the Government respects a recent convention that the House of Commons approves UK military intervention.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said on Wednesday that MPs "should always be given a say on military action."
"That's a case that I've made going back many, many years in Parliament," he added.
"Obviously the situation is very serious, obviously there has to be, now, a demand for a political process to end the war in Syria.
"We cannot risk an escalation even further than it's gone already."
Smoke rises after the Syrian army shells targeted the Douma district in the Eastern Ghouta countryside of Damascus, 07-04-2018. Image: Xinhua/Ammar Safarjalani
Meanwhile, US defence secretary James Mattis has said the country’s military stands ready to provide President Trump with options for striking Syria.
He said the US is still assessing intelligence relating to Syrian President Bashar al Assad's involvement in the attack.
He said the US military was ready to provide the President with military options, if appropriate and at the President's request.
With reporting from IRN ...