Global chemical watchdog says it will continue fact-finding mission to area of suspected chemical attack in Syria after Russian President Vladimir Putin said U.S.

and allies should have waited for inspection before launching strikes
RUSSIA issued a stark warning to Donald Trump and Theresa May saying there would be ‘consequences’ after the US, UK and France led an air strike in Syria overnight.

Here is the latest news and live updates as the crisis in Syria continues.

11.55am: EU says Russia and Iran to be hit by new economic sanctions if chemical attacks continueEuropean Union warns Russia and Iran of fresh economic sanctions if chemical weapon attacks continue by the Syrian government.The political union said: “The EU calls upon all countries, notably Russia and Iran, to use their influence to prevent any further use of chemical weapons, notably by the Syrian regime.”

It added the EU had imposed Syrian sanctions in July 2017 and March this year and was “always ready to consider imposing further measures as appropriate”.

11.26am: Russia claims Syrian air defences shot down “71 of 103: missiles fired by allied attack, Guardian writes

Syrian defence forces shot down “71 of 103” missiles according to the Russian military, as reported by The Guardian.

11.08am: Theresa May says strikes are ‘right and legal’ after allegations they are illegalTheresa May has defended the air strikes in Syria saying they are ‘right and legal’ after opposition Jeremy Corbyn questioned their legality.Theresa May says strikes are ‘right and legal’ amid allegations they are illegal

The attacks were focus on military bases near the Syrian capital of Damascus – the city of Homs was also targeted.

10.39am: Theresa May to update parliament about strikes on Monday

Mrs May will speak with parliament about the go-ahead of strikes in a session on Monday.

Meanwhile, President Vladimir Putin has said Russia will call an emergency session of the UN Security Council over Saturday’s attack.

10.27am: France says no further strikes planned

The objectives of international strikes on Syria have been met and there are no further strikes planned at this stage but the Syrian government should be aware that fresh strikes could be planned if it crosses red lines again, France said on Saturday.

Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told BFM TV in an interview that there were no changes to President Emmanuel Macron’s planned trip to Russia next month.

9.30am: Theresa May speaks

The Prime Minister said it was both “right and legal” to take action against Syria to “degrade” and deter the regime from developing and using the weapons.

She said the strike was “limited” and “effective”.

Ms May stressed it wasn’t a regime change and purely to destroy stocks of weapons.

5.24am: Syria say they ‘absorbed’ airstrikes

The Syrian government has bragged the US, UK and French airstrikes launched overnight had little impact after Russia gave the Assad regime advanced warning of the attack.They told Reuters: “We have absorbed the strike.

“We had an early warning of the strike from the Russians and all military bases were evacuated a few days ago.”

4.50am: Russia react to Trump’s announcement

Russia’s Ambassador to the US, Anatoly Antonov said on Twitter: “Again, we are being threatened. We warned that such actions will not be left without consequences.””Insulting the President of Russia is unacceptable and inadmissible.”

3.57am: Airstrikes fall on Syria

Images have emerged of airstrikes hitting the Syrian capital of Damascus.

At least six loud explosions were heard and smoke was seen rising over the city.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said a scientific research centre and military bases in Damascus were struck, as were the Syrian army’s Republican Guard and 4th Division, elite units of the Syrian military.

Airstrikes in DamascusAFP

The capital city of Damascus has been hit in airstrikes

3:20am: Emmanuel Macron statement 

French president Emmanuel Macron said there was no doubt the Syrian regime was responsible for the chemical attack in Douma.

He said: “We cannot tolerate the trivialisation of the use of chemical weapons, which represent an immediate danger for the Syrian people and for our collective security.

“The red line set by France in May 2017 has been crossed.”

3.00am: Counter-terrorism police deployed

The New York Police Department have deployed counter-terrorism police across the city following the airstrikes on Syria.

In a statement they said: “The NYPD is working with our intelligence bureau liaisons stationed abroad as well as out federal partners, and closely monitoring the US military action in Syria.”There is no nexus to News York City, nor are there any credible threats to New York City, at this time.

“Countertenor officers have been deployed in and around the City out of an abundance of caution.”

2.31am: Theresa May releases a statement

Theresa May has released a statement following Trump’s announcement, giving the UK’s full backing to airstrikes.

She said: “This is the first time as Prime Minister that I have had to take the decision to commit our armed forces in combat – and it is not a decision I have taken lightly.

“I have done so because I judge this action to be in Britain’s national interest.

“We cannot allow the use of chemical weapons to become normalised – within Syria, on the streets of the UK, or anywhere else in our world.”

2.18am: Trump’s blunt message to Iran and Russia

Speaking directly to Iran and Russia during his announcement, Donald Trump accused Syria’s backers of being “associated with mass murder”.

Both Iran and Russia have supported President Assad’s regime since the outbreak of the war in in Middle East country.

In his address  Trump said: “To Iran and to Russia I ask, what kind of a nation wants to be associated with the mass murder of innocent men, women and children?”2.14am: President Assad ‘a monster’

Announcing military action in Syria, the US President accused President Assad of being “a monster”.

Refering to last week’s chemical weapon attack he said: “These are not the actions of a man, they are the crimes of a monster instead.”

2.11am: Donald Trump anounces airstrikes

In a major announcement from the White House, Donald Trump declared he ahs officially ordered airstrikes on Syria.

Reporters rushed to the White House after a press breifing was called unexpectedly.

Military action between the US, UK and France has been expected for several days.

Donald Trump announcementGETTY

Donald Trump has announced US military intervention in Syria

Friday, April 13

Reporting by Kat Hopps

9.20pm: Syria staged the Douma attack, reiterates White House

The White House says it has “very high confidence” that Syria staged the Douma attack.

Responding to questions about Russia’s claim the attack was faked, spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said: “Our intelligence tells use otherwise. I can’t go beyond that.”

She added: “We have a very high confidence that Syria was responsible,” saying Russia’s failure to stop Syria has been “part of the problem”.

8.05pm: UN chief says Cold War is ‘back with a vengeance’

The UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has said the Cold War is “back with a vengeance”.

Speaking to the UN Security Council, Mr Guterres also warned the current situation in Syria poses a threat to global security.

6.42pm: Foreign Office says it is ‘ludicrous’ that Britain was behind Douma attack

The Foreign Office had said accusations made by Moscow that Britain directed the attack on Douma were “ludicrous”.

A spokesman said: “Russia has wielded its UNSC veto six times since February 2017 to shield the Assad regime from scrutiny for its use of chemical weapons.

“These accusations from Moscow are just the latest in a number of ludicrous allegations from Russia, who have also said that no attack ever happened.

“This simply shows their desperation to pin the blame on anyone but their client: the Assad regime.

“The chemical weapons attack in Douma last Saturday was a shocking and barbaric act that cost up to 75 lives including young children.”

5.49pm: British US Ambassador refutes Russian allegations that Britain staged suspected chemical attack

British UN Ambassador Karen Pierce has denied Russia’s claims that Britain had ‘direct involvement’ in staging the alleged Syria chemical attack

Ms Pierce told reporters: ”This is grotesque, it is a blatant lie, it is the worst piece of fake news we’ve yet seen from the Russian propaganda machine.”

Elsewhere, the United Nations war crimes investigators condemned the suspected use of chemical weapons in Douma, calling for the preservation of evidence to secure future prosecutions.

In a statement, the UN international commission of inquiry on Syria said: “Perpetrators of such attacks must be identified and held accountable.

“We stress the imperative need to preserve evidence, and call upon all relevant authorities to ensure no party tampers with suspected sites, objects, witnesses, or victims before independent monitors and investigators are able to access the area.”

Russia vs USA war live updates: Igor KonashenkovVadim Savitsky/TASS

Russia vs USA war live updates: Major-General Igor Konashenkov gives a media briefing about Syria

4.33pm: EU may implement fresh sanctions on Syria

The European Union is considering imposing fresh sanctions on Syria including blacklisting more people over the use and development of chemical arms, according to its foreign ministers.

Officials will meet on Monday to discuss the issue of western military intervention in Syria following the alleged chemical attack by President Assad’s forces.

Senior EU representatives said today that “evidence clearly points to the Syrian regime” being involved in the attack in Douma, which killed up to 75 people.

4.20pm: Russan UN Ambassador says western powers want to ‘oust’ President AssadRussia’s UN Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia told the UN Security Council today that the US, France and Britain were interested in ousting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government and containing Russia.

He said: “We continue to observe dangerous military preparations for an illegal act of force against a sovereign state in what would constitute a breach of international law.

“We call on the leadership of these states to immediately reconsider.”

“The sole thing they have an interest in is to oust the Syrian government and more broadly to contain the Russian Federation.”

4.15pm: Kat Hopps takes over live reporting

2.53pm Russia claims it has ‘irrefutable’ evidence that foreign actors staged the alleged chemical attack in the Syrian city of Douma, according to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

Mr Lavrov said in a press conference on Friday: “We have irrefutable evidence that this was yet another performance and that security services of a country which is trying to be in the frontlines of the Russophobic campaign were involved in this performance.”

He announced that Russian experts had examined the site of the alleged attack in the city, and found no trace of chemical weapons.

But Mr Lavrov failed to mention the country he alleges is spearheading a Russo-phobic campaign with the “fabrication”.

2.30pm update: Russia – UK is deliberately destroying evidence

Russia has accused the UK of “deliberately destroying all possible evidence” so Moscow can not independently investigate the Salisbury attack incident.

The UK accused Russia of being responsible for the nerve-agent attack on former Russian spy Sergei Skripal, and his daughter last month.

Russia has repeatedly denied being behind the Salisbury attack and today London ambassador Alexander Yakovenko accused the UK of destroying evidence to the incident.

He said: “We get the impression the British Government is deliberately pursuing the policy of destroying all possible evidence.

1.38pm update: Russia says no proof has been presented that there was a chemical attack in Syria

In a press conference on Friday, Russia’s UK Ambassador, Alexander Yakovenko said: “Syrian authorities were immediately blamed for the so-called attack, no proof was presented and no questions were asked.

“I think the conclusions were based on social media. Russian services for security visited the incident and didn’t find any kind of substances there, no traces of chemical poisoning were found in local hospitals.

“We are interested in meeting experts there to carry out necessary tests.

He added: “At the request of the Syrian government, OPCW experts will be on ground tomorrow.

“We would like them to visit the place of the alleged incident and take samples, not just studying social media images and stories.”

12.39pm update: The Russian Embassy in the UK says it is “concerned about the decision of the Cabinet to “take action” 

It added: The preparations are being made despite lack of evidence as regards to what happened on the ground in British interpretation. At the request of the Syrian Government the OPCW sent a fact-finding team to Douma. The experts will arrive tomorrow.

“Syrian authorities will provide all the relevant security guarantees. Russia is ready to assist in ensuring its safety. We are interested in seeing independent experts there, so they can make all the necessary tests without delay.

“The conditions on the ground, now that the Russian military police is present in Douma, are appropriate for conducting investigation of the alleged incident.

“Russian services for chemical and radiological security visited the suspected site of the incident and did not find any traces of chemical substances. No persons treated for chemical poisoning were found in local hospitals.”

11.47am update: Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Friday he hoped that there would be no repeat of the experience of Libya and Iraq in the Syria conflict

“God forbid anything adventurous will be done in Syria following the Libyan and Iraqi experience,” Lavrov told a news conference on Friday.

He said that even the smallest miscalculation in Syria could lead to new waves of migrants and that ultimatums and threats do not help the dialogue.

Russia and the United States are using their channels of communications on Syria, according to the minister.

Russia's Ambassador to Britain, Alexander YakovenkoPA

Russia’s Ambassador to Britain, Alexander Yakovenko

Russian ambassador in the UK denied Russia involvementREUTERS

Russian ambassador in the UK denied Russia involvement

11.22am update: Russia considers launching restrictions or even bans on USA goodsRussia’s lower house of parliament is to consider draft legislation that would give the Kremlin powers to ban or restrict a list of US imports, reacting to new U.S. sanctions on a group of Russian tycoons and officials.Senior lawmakers in the State Duma, which is dominated by Kremlin loyalists, said they had prepared the list ranging from food and alcohol to medicine and consulting services in response to Washington’s move last week.The Kremlin itself has not said if it backs the draft legislation – which would allow the government to impose the measures should the need arise – and it was not clear if would it become law in its current form. The Russian parliament is often used to send assertive messages to foreign states, but these do not always translate into concrete measures.

10.58am update: German foreign ministry issues statement to allies

A German foreign ministry spokeswoman says the world must assume that not all chemical weapons in Syria were destroyed. Germany agrees with allies that use of chemical weapons must have consequences.

International chemical weapons experts were travelling to Syria to investigate an alleged gas attack by government forces on the town of Douma which killed dozens of people.

The allies of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad were eager today to lay blame for the crisis not with him but with Trump.

10.54am update: Dramatic images show Russian soldiers taking part in live firing exercises today

Troops from the Russian Baltic Fleet’s engineering unit have been testing new equipment as World War 3 tensions continue to ramp up.

The dramatic images show soldiers firing rifles, while others show a Kobra-1600M sapper robotic complex testing for explosive devices.

The drills are being held in Kaliningrad, but have sparked fears the former Soviet state could be preparing for a major war.

10.09am update: Russia has moved ships out of Syria ports and are re-grouping

Satellite images have emerged of Russian warships appearing to move away from key naval bases in Syria as the USA forces amass in nearby waters.

Overhead Images show how at least 11 navy vessels, including the frigate Admiral Grigorovich, appear to have left the Tartus military port on the Syrian coast.

A picture, said to have been taken on Wednesday, shows how only a kilo-class submarine remains in the port, which is understood to be protected by Moscow’s fearsome S-300 and S-400 missile defence systems.

Russia vs USA: Russia firing drillsTASS

Russia vs USA: Russia firing drills have taken place in Kalingrad

Russia vs USA warIPS

Satellite pictures have emerged of Russia ships moving out of Syria ports

9.20am update: Russia warned the US that launching air strikes in response to a suspected chemical attack in Syria could spark a war“The immediate priority is to avert the danger of war,” Moscow’s UN ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said on Thursday.He accused Washington of putting international peace at risk and said the situation was “very dangerous”.Western powers are thought to be preparing for strikes but Russia, a Syrian ally, opposes such action.

“We cannot exclude any possibilities, unfortunately,” Mr Nebenzia told reporters after a private meeting of the UN Security Council in New York.

8.27am update: Russian Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich lashed out at Donald Trump

Dvorkovich said that international relations should not depend on the mood of one person when he wakes up in the morning, in reference to US President Donald Trump’s tweets, RIA news agency reported on Friday.

Dvorkovich, speaking at a forum in Krasnoyarsk, said that Russia was not prepared for such risks.

The US President in a series of tweets on Wednesday said: “Russia vows to shoot down any and all missiles fired at Syria. Get ready Russia, because they will be coming, nice and new and ‘smart’!

“You shouldn’t be partners with a Gas Killing Animal who kills his people and enjoys it!

“Our relationship with Russia is worse now than it has ever been, and that includes the Cold War.

“There is no reason for this. Russia needs us to help with their economy, something that would be very easy to do, and we need all nations to work together. Stop the arms race?”

Russia v USA - Putin and TrumpGETTY

Russia v USA: Putin and Trump remain at loggerheads

USA vs Russia warREUTERS

USA vs Russia war: Putin observes the exposition of missiles yesterday

8.25am update: President Donald Trump and his national security aides discuss options in White House meeting
Trump, after he met his national security team, said “no final decision has been made,” the White House said in a statement despite Trump having threatened missile strikes in response to a suspected poison gas attack, as a Russian envoy voiced fears of wider conflict between Washington and Moscow.”We are continuing to assess intelligence and are engaged in conversations with our partners and allies,” it said.That did not necessarily signal, however, that Trump was cooling to the idea of military action, especially given the high stakes in Syria.

US officials noted that Washington was still assessing intelligence and coordinating allies.

7.47am update: US concerned Syria military strike will escalate ‘out of control’

James Mattis, the US defense secretary has said that the situation with Syria could quickly escalate “out of control”.

He said Washington is still looking for evidence on who carried out Saturday’s chemical weapons attack in Damascus and that his main concern about a military response was how to stop it “escalating out of control”.

Donald Trump has consulted his top national security advisers on a US response but White House spokeswoman, Sarah Sanders, said yesterday  “no final decision has been taken”.

Russia vs US flag warREUTERS

Russia: Russian flag is seen on a military vehicle at the entrance of the Wafideen camp in Damascus

USA war US Donald CookEPA

US Navy showing the guided-missile destroyer USS Donald Cook is in Syria waters

6.30am update: US is tracking military movements of Russia and SyriaThe Institute for the Study of War is tracking military movements of Russia and Syria in recent days.In its latest summary: “Two Russian Su-24M ‘Fencer’ attack aircraft conducted several low-altitude passes in close proximity to the USS Donald Cook and the French frigate Aquitaine in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea on April 11. The Russian Navy conducted a firing drilloff the Syrian coast in a likely attempt to deter USA and allied naval maneuvers near Syria on April 11.”Russia reportedly deployed four Tu-95MS ‘Bear’ and Tu-160M ‘Blackjack’ strategic bombers as well as an unspecified number of Il-78M tanker aircraft from the Engels Air Base in Southern Russia. Their final destination is unknown although they may be bound for Syria or theHamedan Air Basein Western Iran.Russia previously targeted locations in Eastern Syria from the Engels Air Base.

“Russian and regime forces enhanced the air defenses around Syria’s capital, Damascus, where the regime conducted its chemical weapons attack on April 7. Pro-regime forces deployed short- to medium-range surface-to-air missiles, including six Russian Pantsir-S2s, to theMezzeh Military Air Baseand other sites in Damascus.

“Pro-regime officials also reportedly issued an alert to the Syrian Arab Army to evacuate personnel and assets from military bases across Syria.”

USA vs Russia war mapISW

USA and Russia military movements since Syria chemical attack

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