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Russia Told U.S. Where In Syria They Must Not Bomb, That Line Was Not Crossed |RN

The Barzah Research and Development Centre, near Damascus, pictured before and after the coalition missile attack © PA The Barzah Research and Development Centre, near Damascus, pictured before and after the coalition missile attack  

Russia has revealed it warned the US about “red lines” it should not cross before it launched airstrikes on Syria.

Foreign minister Sergei Lavrov is reported to have said that officials in Washington were contacted before last weekend’s strikes by the US, UK and France.

Mr Lavrov said: “There were military leadership contacts, between generals, between our representatives and the coalition leadership.

“They were informed about where our red lines are, including red lines on the ground, geographically. And the results show that they did not cross these red lines.”

Some 105 missiles were launched in response to a suspected chemical attack in the Syrian city of Douma on 7 April that killed more than 40 people.

The Kremlin had threatened retaliatory action if strikes were launched – but it now appears there was at least some level of cooperation.

Russia, a key ally of Syria, has denied that any chemical attack took place.

International inspectors from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) arrived in Damascus almost a week ago but are still waiting to visit the site of the suspected attack.

Mr Lavrov says that, following the airstrikes, it is morally free to deliver S-300 missiles to the Syrian regime.

He said: “Now, we have no moral obligations. We had the moral obligations, we had promised not to do it some 10 years ago, I think, upon the request of our known partners.

“We took into consideration their claim that this could destabilise the situation. Even though it’s purely defensive. Now we don’t have this moral obligation any longer.”

Military analysts say the S-300 surface-to-air missile system would boost Russia’s ability to control airspace in Syria, where Moscow’s forces support the government of President Bashar al Assad and could be aimed at deterring tougher US action.   (Sky News)

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Russia Warships Loaded With Tanks, Military Supplies Seen ‘Leaving Turkey For Syria’

Andrew Gregory
a large ship in a body of water: The ship appeared to be loaded with tanks and military hardware            © Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc  

Russian warships loaded with tanks have been spotted leaving Turkish waters headed for Syria.

It comes as the world awaits Vladimir Putin’s response to airstrikes on Assad’s chemical weapons programme carried out by the US, UK and France.

Putin is expected to order ‘payback’ in the form of a cyber warfare in the West. But images posted online suggest Russia will also step up its military efforts in the Syrian region.

Orsk, Russia’s amphibious transport ship, was seen leaving the Bosphorus strait on Sunday.

One of the tanks has a Pelena-6 communications jammer installed            © Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc  

Naval observer Yoruk Isik said it was headed for Tartus, Russia’s coastal base in Syria, for the fourth time. It was loaded up with appeared to be tanks, lorries and military hardware.

Mr Isik highlighted that a Pelena-6 communications jammer looks to have been installed on the chassis of one of the tanks.

A second ship, the yellow tanker RoRo Alexandr Tkachenko was also pictured carrying trucks and materials for bridge construction.

It comes as Theresa May faces a backlash for snubbing MPs before joining the US-led assault. It’s claimed hackers could release ­embarrassing information about ­­politicians as part of a two-pronged “dirty war” in retaliation for the bombing of Syria.

Spy chiefs also fear the Russian President is plotting a series of cyber attacks that could potentially cripple infrastructure – including the NHS, transport and power networks.

a group of people around each other: Credits: PA            © Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc Credits: PA  

Intelligence officers at GCHQ and the Ministry of Defence are said to be on standby to respond to any cyber warfare “proportionately”.

The US, Britain and France hit three sites in Syria in response to a suspected deadly chlorine attack that killed up to 75 in former rebel stronghold Douma.

Last night Russian president Putin branded the missile strikes on his ally an “act of aggression” and warned further attacks would “have a ­destructive effect” on world peace.

PM Theresa May has reportedly received intelligence Russia could hit members of the UK establishment with “kompromat” – compromising information that could smear their reputations.

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said Moscow had a track record of cyber attacks and meddling in other ­countries’ democratic processes.

He told the BBC: “You have to take every precaution, and when you look at what Russia has done, not just in this country, in Salisbury, attacks on TV stations, on the democratic processes, on critical national infrastructure – of course, we have to be very, very cautious.

“But I want to stress, we in the UK do not seek an escalation, absolutely not.”

Mr Johnson said Western powers had no plans for further strikes but would assess their options if Syria’s government used chemical weapons again. He added: “This is not about regime change … This is not about trying to turn the tide of the conflict in Syria.”

a screenshot of a video game: The Scientific Studies and Research Centre (SSRC) compound in the Barzeh district, north of Damascus, before the raids by the United States, Britain and France              © Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc  

Former Minister for Security, Alan West, also warned Britain could be the target of a dirty war as Putin tries to “hit back”. He said it was unlikely Russia would launch ­military action but would “find other ways”.

Lord West added: “I think he [Putin] will be wanting to do something. It might be a little bit of cyber. He’ll do something but he’s not going to go for missiles in Akrotiri [RAF base in Cyprus] or something like that.”

Michael Clarke, an academic ­specialising in defence studies, told our sister paper the Sunday Mirror an attack could be imminent in the next two or three weeks. He added: “Cyber warfare is highly likely. It will be an attack on national ­infrastructure, not just ­upsetting City firms, but getting inside the transport system, or the health system, or air traffic control.”

According to reports, Mrs May has been warned politicians could be singled out in any Russian cyber attack – as Hillary Clinton was during the US presidential election. One source told the Sunday Times: “We know what’s in the Russian playbook, kompromat type material, we’re all prepared for that.

a person using a laptop computer sitting on top of a desk: It's also feared NHS IT systems could be hit by Russian hackers            © Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc  

“We know that they do have that ability to penetrate at that scale.

“We’re not saying there’s a picture of ‘X’ that’s waiting to come out but it’ll be amazing to us if they don’t have some of that kind of material.”

Referring to a possible counter cyber attack by Britain, the source added: “If they aggressively come after us, we will certainly have the ability to do some stuff to them. But unlike Russia, we abide by the law so anything we do would be proportionately done.”

It also emerged the PM is ready to order economic sanctions on London-based Russian oligarchs.

And Nikki Haley, US envoy to the UN, said new sanctions would be announced today against Russian firms linked to Syrian despot Bashar al-Assad.

Saturday morning’s strikes represented the most significant attack against Assad’s government by Western powers in seven years of Syria’s civil war. US officials claimed attacks on sites in Barzeh, Damascus, and Him Shinsar, west of Homs, had set Assad’s chemical weapons programme back years.

The Russians and the US said there were no reported casualties. After the strikes, the US revealed a Russian “disinformation campaign” had already begun.

The Pentagon’s Dana White said there was “a 2,000% increase in Russian trolls in 24 hours”.

The Kremlin is also thought to be boosting the number of spies in the UK – weeks after former agent Sergei Skripal and daughter Yulia were poisoned in Salisbury.

Colonel Richard Kemp, who led Operation Fingal in Afghanistan in 2002, said: “The Russians will be seeing us as more of a direct enemy. I think the likelihood is they will be increasing their espionage activity.”

Yesterday inspectors from the independent Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons were in the Syrian capital Damascus. They met Syrian officials and were set to visit nearby Douma, in Eastern Ghouta.

The Syrian army announced on Saturday the region had been cleared of the last rebel fighters.

Some locals claimed yesterday the bombing against was less intense than expected. One supporter of the anti-Assad opposition, said: “It wasn’t as intense as they’re making it sound.

“We have no more faith in the international community.”

One of the tanks has a Pelena-6 communications jammer installed

Meanwhile, US President Donald Trump has defended his use of the phrase “Mission Accomplished” following the allied attack.

George W. Bush said the same thing six weeks into the 2003 Iraq War, also declaring “major combat operations in Iraq have ended”.

It became a global symbol of US misjudgment and mistakes as the conflict continued to rage for years.

Mr Trump tweeted yesterday: “The Syrian raid was so perfectly carried out, with such precision, that the only way the Fake News Media could demean was by my use of the term ‘Mission Accomplished’.”

He added: “I knew they would seize on this but felt it is such a great Military term.” (Mirror)

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UK Braced Up For Cyber Attack As Retaliation From Russia Over Attack On Syria |RN

Amanda Cashmore
 

Britain was braced for a Russian cyber attack last night as officials warned of swift retaliation for the military strikes on Syria.

Intelligence officers at GCHQ and the Ministry of Defence are on standby to hit back if the Kremlin wages cyber warfare.

Vladimir Putin wearing a suit and tie: Vladimir Putin condemned the strikes as an ‘act of aggression against a sovereign state’ and accused the US and its allies of violating the ‘norms and principles of international law’© Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Vladimir Putin condemned the strikes as an ‘act of aggression against a sovereign state’ and accused the US and its allies of violating the ‘norms and…

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson acknowledged the threat yesterday, saying the UK had to take ‘every possible precaution’.

It is feared vital transport systems, water supplies, gas networks, banks, hospitals and even air traffic control could be hacked by Russia in response to the assault on Bashar al-Assad’s chemical weapons facilities.

Boris Johnson wearing a suit and tie: Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson acknowledged the threat yesterday, saying the UK had to take ‘every possible precaution’© Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson acknowledged the threat yesterday, saying the UK had to take ‘every possible precaution’

Intelligence sources also fear the retaliation could involve the online release of so-called ‘kompromat’ – compromising information on MPs or other public figures.

 

The Syria crisis will dominate the return of Parliament today, with Mrs May facing the prospect of MPs voting against her decision to join Friday night’s US-led strikes to punish the Assad regime for the use of chemical weapons in Douma.

In a robust defence of her actions, the Prime Minister will deliver a statement to MPs insisting that Britain had to strike Syria ‘in our national interest’.

This image shows areas targeted in Syria by the U.S.-led coalition in response to Syria's use of chemical weapons© Getty This image shows areas targeted in Syria by the U.S.-led coalition in response to Syria’s use of chemical weapons

And she will invoke the Salisbury poisonings, saying that military action was essential to help deter any future use of chemical weapons ‘on the streets of the UK’.

On Saturday, Russia warned of ‘consequences’ after the air strikes.

Moscow has already launched repeated online assaults against the UK and intelligence chiefs fear they have the capability to hack into certain critical systems. Speaking on the BBC’s Andrew Marr show, Mr Johnson said: ‘I think we have to take every possible precaution.

a close up of a truck: Britain was braced for a Russian cyber attack last night as officials warned of swift retaliation for the military strikes on Syria© Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Britain was braced for a Russian cyber attack last night as officials warned of swift retaliation for the military strikes on Syria

‘When you look at what Russia has done, not just in this country, in Salisbury, attacks on TV stations, on the democratic processes, on critical national infrastructure – of course, we have to be very, very cautious indeed.’ A National Cyber Security Centre spokesman added: ‘We are always vigilant to attacks wherever they come from and we have a full spectrum of capabilities to draw on if required.’

Intelligence experts accept that the most likely response from Russia will be through covert cyber warfare. This would be on top of an avalanche of fake news planted by Moscow-run online trolls.

Last week, Ciaran Martin, director of the cybersecurity centre, warned that Russia had already repeatedly ‘hit’ the UK’s critical infrastructure. This includes vital systems such as water supplies, electricity and gas networks, hospitals, banks and transport.

Theresa May posing for the camera: In a robust defence of her actions, the Prime Minister will deliver a statement to MPs insisting that Britain had to strike Syria ‘in our national interest’© Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited In a robust defence of her actions, the Prime Minister will deliver a statement to MPs insisting that Britain had to strike Syria ‘in our national interest’

He said Kremlin attacks on computer networks were ‘part of a wider campaign to destabilise’ the UK.

‘Our critical infrastructure gets hit frequently by Russia and it is not always clear for what purpose,’ he said.

‘As a government as a whole we want to counter hostile Russian intent towards the democratic system and we have got all sorts of different parts of government working on that.’

Whitehall sources said yesterday Russia was carrying out cyber attacks against the UK ‘all the time’. One added: ‘What is clear, both offensive and defensive cyber capabilities are now a reality.’

a man wearing a suit and tie: In the hours after the strikes, Moscow’s ambassador to the US, Anatoly Antonov, said: ‘The worst apprehensions have come true. Our warnings have been left unheard. A pre-designed scenario is being implemented. Again, we are being threatened. We warned that such actions will not be left without consequences'© Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited In the hours after the strikes, Moscow’s ambassador to the US, Anatoly Antonov, said: ‘The worst apprehensions have come true. Our warnings have been left…

And one security source told The Sunday Times: ‘We know what’s in the Russian playbook – kompromat-type material – we’re all prepared for that.’

In the hours after the strikes, Moscow’s ambassador to the US, Anatoly Antonov, said: ‘The worst apprehensions have come true. Our warnings have been left unheard. A pre-designed scenario is being implemented. Again, we are being threatened. We warned that such actions will not be left without consequences.

‘All responsibility for them rests with Washington, London and Paris. Insulting the president of Russia is unacceptable and inadmissible.’ Putin condemned the strikes as an ‘act of aggression against a sovereign state’ and accused the US and its allies of violating the ‘norms and principles of international law’. Putin even accused America of having ‘staged a chemical attack against civilians’ as a ‘pretext’ for the attack.

Evacuations continue in Syria's Eastern Ghouta         © Getty Evacuations continue in Syria’s Eastern Ghouta

One Russian politician even compared Mr Trump to Adolf Hitler. Alexander Sherin said he ‘can be called Adolf Hitler No 2 of our time – because you see, he even chose the same time [of night] that Hitler chose to attack the Soviet Union’.

A Russian resolution at the UN Security Council condemning the air strikes was soundly defeated on Saturday night. Moscow gained support from only two countries, China and Bolivia. Four council members – Ethiopia, Kazakhstan, Peru and Equatorial Guinea – abstained, while the remaining eight members voted against.

At the same time, Mrs May has faced considerable criticism for not recalling Parliament to gain approval for joining the US-led action.

Tory MPs returning from recess this week have been told they have to be in the Commons today and tomorrow in case there is a vote on her handling of the Syria crisis.

Last night, however, Downing Street officials said they believed a Commons vote was unlikely to take place – although they did not rule out the possibility that Opposition parties could force one later in the week.

Mrs May will tell MPs: ‘Let me be absolutely clear. We have acted because it is in our national interest to do so.’   (The Daily Mail)

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Trump To Impose New Sanctions On Russia Over Syria Gas Attack |RN

By PETER BAKER
Donald Trump wearing a suit and tie: The Trump administration plans to impose new sanctions against Russia on Monday, the third round enacted by the administration against Russia in the past four weeks. © Tom Brenner/The New York Times The Trump administration plans to impose new sanctions against Russia on Monday, the third round enacted by the administration against Russia in the past four weeks.

 

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration plans to impose new sanctions against Russia on Monday to punish it for enabling the Syrian government’s use of chemical weapons in its civil war, the latest in a series of actions by both sides underscoring the deterioration in relations between Moscow and the West.

The sanctions, coming shortly after American-led airstrikes against facilities linked to Syria’s chemical weapons, are meant to signal that the United States holds responsible not just the Damascus government of President Bashar al-Assad but also his patrons in Russia and Iran. President Trump has vowed that Syria’s allies will pay a “big price” for permitting his use of poison gas.

The sanctions were announced on Sunday by Nikki R. Haley, the ambassador to the United Nations and the administration’s leading public voice excoriating Russia in recent days. “They will go directly to any sort of companies that were dealing with equipment related to Assad and chemical weapons use,” she said on “Face the Nation” on CBS. “And so I think everyone is going to feel it at this point. I think everyone knows that we sent a strong message and our hope is that they listen to it.”

US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley speaks during a UN Security Council meeting, at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, on April 14, 2018.
The UN Security Council on Saturday opened a meeting at Russia's request to discuss military strikes carried out by the United States, France and Britain on Syria in response to a suspected chemical weapons attack. Russia circulated a draft resolution calling for condemnation of the military action, but Britain's ambassador said the strikes were 'both right and legal' to alleviate humanitarian suffering in Syria.
 / AFP PHOTO / HECTOR RETAMAL        (Photo credit should read HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP/Getty Images) © Getty US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley speaks during a UN Security Council meeting, at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, on April 14, 2018. The UN Security Council on Saturday opened a…

Mr Trump has tried through most of his presidency to forge a friendship with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia and avoid criticizing him personally even as a special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, investigated whether his campaign coordinated with Russia during the 2016 election. But in recent weeks, Mr Trump’s administration has taken increasing action against Russia, and the president singled out Mr Putin over Syria’s use of chemical weapons on Twitter and again in a televised speech on Friday night.

New sanctions on Monday would be the third round enacted by the Trump administration against Russia in the past four weeks. Last month the administration targeted Russian companies and individuals for intervening in the 2016 election and mounting cyber attacks against Western facilities. It followed that this month with penalties against Mr Putin’s inner circle, singling out some of Russia’s richest men and top government officials.

The administration also expelled 60 Russian diplomats and intelligence officers and closed the Russian Consulate in Seattle in response to the poisoning of a former Russian spy living in Britain.

The strikes against Syria in retaliation for a suspected chemical attack that killed dozens in the Damascus suburb of Douma were designed to avoid provoking Russia into a response. By hitting just three targets and limiting the attack to a single night, the Trump administration seemed to keep it limited enough not to compel Moscow to lash back.

But Ms Haley said the administration was determined to make Moscow pay a price for supporting Mr Assad, noting that it had vetoed six United Nations resolutions related to Syria and chemical weapons.

“Assad knew that Russia had its back,” she said on “Fox News Sunday.” “Assad knew that Russia would cover for him at the United Nations and Assad got reckless and he used it in a way that was far more aggressive.”    (The New York Times)

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Trump Declares ‘Mission Accomplished’ After Airstrike Against Syria |RN

Jesse Byrnes
Donald Trump smiling for the camera               © Provided by The Hill  

President Trump on Saturday declared “mission accomplished” after approving airstrikes with the United Kingdom and France against chemical weapons production facilities in Syria the previous night.

“A perfectly executed strike last night. Thank you to France and the United Kingdom for their wisdom and the power of their fine Military. Could not have had a better result. Mission Accomplished!” Trump tweeted.

“So proud of our great Military which will soon be, after the spending of billions of fully approved dollars, the finest that our Country has ever had. There won’t be anything, or anyone, even close!” he added in another tweet.

 

https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/985130802668294144

https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/985133017256660995

Trump announced late Friday during a televised address at the White House that he had ordered “precision strikes” on targets in Syria associated with the government of Syrian leader Bashar Assad. The strikes targeted three sites near the capital of Damascus and in Homs, roughly 100 miles north.

U.S. defence officials were expected to give details on Saturday on the effectiveness of the strikes. Defense Secretary James Mattis on Friday night characterized the strikes as a stronger response to Assad than a strike against a Syrian air base last year following a previous chemical weapons attack.

“Clearly the Assad regime did not get the message last year,” Mattis told reporters in a press briefing at the Pentagon. “This time our allies and we have struck harder.”

“We used a little over double the number of weapons this year than we used last year,” Mattis added. “We were very precise and proportionate, but at the same time, it was a heavy strike.”

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, joined by Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford, speaks at the Pentagon, Friday, April 13, 2018, on the U.S. military response, along with France and Britain, to Syria's chemical weapon attack on April 7.​ (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)© AP Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, joined by Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford, speaks at the Pentagon, Friday, April 13, 2018, on the U.S. military response, along with France and Britain, to Syria’s…  

Mattis said no additional strikes against Syria were planned.

“Right now, this is a one-time shot,” he told reporters.

Trump announced the new strikes Friday night, which was coordinated with France and the U.K., following a week of deliberation and discussions with British Prime Minister Theresa May and French President Emanuel Macron over an apparent chemical weapons attack last weekend.

TOPSHOT - US President Donald Trump addresses the nation on the situation in Syria April 13, 2018 at the White House in Washington, DC. Trump said strikes on Syria are under way.  / AFP PHOTO / Mandel NGAN        (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)© Getty TOPSHOT – US President Donald Trump addresses the nation on the situation in Syria April 13, 2018, at the White House in Washington, DC. Trump said strikes on Syria are underway. / AFP PHOTO /…  

The U.S. and other Western countries have blamed Assad’s government for the attack in the Syrian town of Douma last weekend that left more than 40 people dead.

Syria and its allies, Iran and Russia, have denied that the Assad government used chemical weapons. On Saturday, leaders from all three countries denounced the joint U.S.-led strikes, with Russian President Vladimir Putin calling it an “act of aggression.”

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(Video) Russia Prepares For Nuclear War With United States |The Republican News

Cristina Maza
Russian President and presidential candidate Vladimir Putin enters a hall to meet with other candidates in the poll, a day after the presidential election, at the Kremlin in Moscow on March 19, 2018.: Putin-Russia            © Yuri Kadobnov/AFP/Getty Images Putin-Russia 

Russian state-owned television is urging the country’s residents to stock their bunkers with water and basic foodstuffs because Moscow could go to war with Washington.

Warning that the potential conflict between the two superpowers would be “catastrophic,” an anchor for Russia’s Vesti 24 showed off shelves of food, recommending that people buy salt, oatmeal and other products that can last a long time on the shelves. Powdered milk lasts five years while sugar and rice can last up to eight years, the newscaster explained before showing videos of pasta cooking in a bomb shelter.

The channel’s newscasters also displayed charts explaining how much water people need to store for drinking, washing their face and hands, and preparing food every day—and how that amount changes depending on the temperature of a person’s bomb shelter. The program also recommended that people stock up on gas masks and read guides on how to survive a nuclear war.

Related: Russian warships put to sea from Syrian naval base (Fox News

 Russian warships put to sea from Syrian naval base

The program aired just one day after sources told Newsweek that “there is a major war scare” in Moscow, as President Donald Trump prepares to strike Syria in retaliation for the use of chemical weapons against civilians over the weekend. The Trump administration has said it believes Syria’s Russian-backed President Bashar al-Assad was responsible for the attacks, and it plans to ensure that Assad pays the price. Russian military forces have responded by saying that Moscow would meet fire with fire and said that it will shoot down any U.S. missiles.

“If there is a strike by the Americans, then the missiles will be downed and even the sources from which the missiles were fired,” warned Alexander Zasypkin, Russia’s ambassador to Lebanon, during an interview on Tuesday with a television station linked to Hezbollah.

Vladimir Putin           © Getty Vladimir Putin

The increasingly bellicose rhetoric has sparked fears that a conflict could break out between two nuclear-armed superpowers. On Wednesday morning, Trump took to Twitter to issue a stark warning to Russia, which he accused of partnering with “a Gas Killing Animal who kills his people and enjoys it!”

But he later walked back the statement, calling for an end to the arms race with Russia.  Newsweek

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UK Submarines Move Within Missile Range Of Syria As Theresa May Convenes ‘War Cabinet’

Iain Burns
British Prime Minister Theresa May. (Photo by MICHAEL CAMPANELLA/Getty Images)© Getty British Prime Minister Theresa May. (Photo by MICHAEL CAMPANELLA/Getty Images)

 

Theresa May was poised last night to defy calls for a Commons vote on military action in Syria

The Prime Minister summoned ministers back to London to seek their support for joining an American-led attack on the Assad regime within days.

Clearing the way for action, she declared the use of chemical weapons could not go unchallenged and said ‘all the indications’ suggested that Bashar Assad’s forces were responsible for Saturday’s atrocity near Damascus.

Military chiefs are said to have ordered British submarines armed with Tomahawk cruise missiles to move within range of Syria.

a small boat in a body of water: General Sir Richard Barrons, a former commander of Joint Forces Command, said Russia's warnings that launch platforms could be targeted in response to air strikes meant 'they are going to try and sink ships, sink submarines and shoot aircraft out of the sky - that's war'© Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited General Sir Richard Barrons, a former commander of Joint Forces Command, said Russia’s warnings that launch platforms could be targeted in response to air strikes… 

Despite fears of a military confrontation with Russia, no preparations are being made to recall MPs from their Easter recess. It is understood No 10 believes it can launch a one-off, punitive strike without consulting Parliament.

Donald Trump dramatically escalated the crisis yesterday by telling Russia to ‘get ready’ because ‘nice and new and smart’ cruise missiles would be coming.

He warned Vladimir Putin not to stand by President Assad, who he described as a ‘gas killing animal’.

a close up of a newspaper            © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited 

Russia’s ambassador to Lebanon had said his country was ready to target US planes and ships if they fired at Syrian regime forces. That would effectively lead to a state of war, according to Sir Richard Barrons, a senior former military commander.

And Julian Lewis, who chairs the Commons defence committee, was among MPs to warn of the risks of intervention. ‘Embroiling ourselves in a military clash with Russia in the context of a civil war between an inhumane government and opposition-controlled by jihadi fanatics is not a sensible one, to put it mildly,’ he said.

In other developments:

British officials were said to be in talks with their counterparts in France and the US about which military assets should be deployed for military action.

a group of people standing around a table: Mrs May has said Britain will co-ordinate its response to the incident in the rebel-held town of Douma - where at least 40 people are reported to have been killed - with the US and France© Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Mrs May has said Britain will coordinate its response to the incident in the rebel-held town of Douma – where at least 40 people are reported to have been killed -… 

‘We are committed to deter and prevent the use of chemical weapons,’ said a government source.

‘We now have to establish the best way of getting there, and those conversations are carrying on, officials are speaking to their counterparts in France and America right now. In terms of precisely what happens next, that is still to be confirmed.’

The PM will hold a Cabinet meeting this afternoon. Ministers were understood to be privately urging her to act, although is not clear whether the British public would support an expansion of military action in Syria.

Brexit Secretary David Davis voted against military action against the Assad regime in 2013.

Speaking on a visit to Birmingham yesterday, Mrs May said: ‘The continued use of chemical weapons cannot go unchallenged.’

Asked whether she was concerned about Mr Trump’s tweet, she replied: ‘We are working with our allies, we have been working to get an understanding of what happened on the ground. We are rapidly reaching that understanding. All the indications are that the Syrian regime was responsible.

‘We will be working with our closest allies on how we can ensure that those who are responsible are held to account and how we can prevent and deter the humanitarian catastrophe that comes from the use of chemical weapons in the future.’

Tory MP Mr Lewis insisted there should be a vote before the UK took action. ‘There is a real danger that what starts out as justified punishment for the use of chemical weapons ends up with the Royal Air Force serving as the air arm of the jihadi extremist rebels in Syria,’ he said.

The U.S. has maintained its threat of rocket attacks in response to Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad's sickening chemical attack on the rebel-held town of Douma on Saturday© Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited The U.S. has maintained its threat of rocket attacks in response to Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad’s sickening chemical attack on the rebel-held town of Douma…

‘It sends a very bad signal to the country that they don’t submit themselves to parliamentary scrutiny before involving in taking military action by choice in the context of a civil war where both sides equally atrocious.’

Tory colleague Bob Seely said: ‘Trump is declaring war on Twitter. Both Trump and Putin need to remember what the stakes are.

‘This crisis could escalate very quickly into a shooting war in Syria. If Russians are injured, the Kremlin will hit back. The most important thing our generation can achieve is to avoid actual conflict with Russia.

‘If we are reckless or thoughtless in our actions, it will make conflict now or in future more likely to happen.’

Russia’s ambassador to Lebanon, Alexander Zasypkin, said any US missiles fired at Syria would be shot down along with the ships or planes that fired them.

He told Hezbollah’s Al Manar TV: ‘If there is a strike by the Americans then … the missiles will be downed and even the sources from which the missiles were fired.’

Then, in the early hours of yesterday morning, Mr Trump responded on Twitter, saying: ‘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.’

In a further tweet 40 minutes later, he said: ‘Our relationship with Russia is worse now that it has ever been, and that includes the Cold War.

‘There is no reason for this. Russia needs us to help with their economy.’

Russia’s foreign ministry spokesman responded by saying ‘smart missiles should fly towards terrorists, not lawful government’.

General Barrons, who led the UK’s joint forces command until 2016, said of the Russian ambassador’s warning: ‘He is saying not only are they going to shoot down the missiles in flight, but by saying launch sites, he is saying they are going to try and sink ships, sink submarines and shoot aircraft out of the sky. That’s war.’

Charles Crawford, former British Ambassador to Bosnia, warned the range of options for dealing with the crisis varied between ‘terrible and catastrophic’.

Don’t attack without a vote, MPs from all parties urge May 

MPs from across Parliament last night urged Theresa May to change her mind as she prepared to launch military action against Bashar al-Assad without a Commons vote.

Cabinet sources said there was now a ‘broad view’ in Downing Street that the Prime Minister does not need to seek the approval of MPs before launching strikes.

Some senior Tories yesterday joined Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the SNP in demanding MPs are given a say, as they warned of the dangers of how the crisis could escalate.Since the Iraq War a precedent has been set that all military action abroad is first approved by Parliament, but sources last night told the Mail that no preparations have been made for MPs to return to Westminster before Monday when their Easter recess ends.

When asked if she would recall parliament yesterday, Mrs May declined to answer the question directly. Tory MP Sir David Amess said the Prime Minister needed to come to the Commons before retaliating against Assad following the chemical weapons attack in Syria.

He said: ‘I think we have to look at this situation very, very carefully because since I have been in Parliament we have been involved in conflicts in Iraq and in Afghanistan. Neither with terribly good outcomes.’

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All three of the main opposition parties – Labour, the SNP and Liberal Democrats – yesterday called on Mrs May to hold a Commons vote before embarking on the action.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said: ‘Parliament should always be given a say on military action. That’s a case that I’ve made going back many, many years in parliament.

‘Listen, what happened last weekend was terrible.

‘What we don’t want is bombardment which leads to escalation and leads to a hot war between Russia and America over the skies of Syria,’ he added.

 Jeremy Corbyn’s brother has claimed the chemical weapons attack in Syria was a hoax. Piers Corbyn retweeted a fake news video from a US conspiracy theory website and tagged his brother in the tweet.

Piers Corbyn tweeted: ‘Video of Syria chemical attack is fake news. Some actors masked, others not in danger zone. Slosh water on children to cry. That’s it!’

The video, on the Infowars website, suggests the attack on Douma was not carried out by the Assad regime and was the work of actors.

Daily Mail

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