UK decision on Syria must be made carefully, based on evidence -minister

Syria news Jeremy Corbyn

"Even this week the Russians vetoed a Resolution at the UN Security Council which would have established an independent investigation into the Douma attack", she said.

Following an emergency meeting lasting more than two hours on Thursday, Theresa May's top ministers agreed Britain should continue to work with the USA and France on a coordinated response.

However, on Tuesday night Russia's ambassador to Lebanon said any USA missiles fired at Syria would be shot down and the launch sites targeted.

"Britain's Ministry of Defence said four Tornado jets using Storm Shadow missiles had taken part in the attack which had been created to target a military facility where it was assessed Syria had stockpiled chemicals".

"There have been many instances when we have seen them using those chemical weapons".

Trump is expected to imminently announce military intervention after the Syrian regime, which is backed by President Putin, was accused of carrying out a chemical attack in Douma, just outside Damascus.

The U.S., France and Britain have been consulting about launching a military strike within days, and President Donald Trump tweeted Wednesday that missiles "will be coming".

"All the indications are that the Syrian regime was responsible, and we'll be working with our closest allies to consider how we can ensure that those responsible are held to account, and also how we can prevent and deter the humanitarian catastrophe of the use of chemical weapons in the future".

For Macron, "the facts and the responsibility of the Syrian regime are not in doubt", concerning the "deaths of dozens of men, women and children" in what he said was a chemical weapons attack on April 7 in Douma.

United States broadcaster NBC quoted USA officials familiar with the intelligence as saying they had now obtained blood and urine samples which had tested positive for chemical weapons.

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May said while the strike was targeted at Syria, it sent a message to anyone who used chemical weapons.

Moscow's UN ambassador Vassily Nebenzia claimed the "immediate priority is to avert the danger of war" following a closed-door meeting of the UN Security Council on Thursday.

Asked if he was referring to war between the United States and Russia, Mr Nebenzia added: "We can not exclude any possibilities, unfortunately, because we saw messages that are coming from Washington". "This collective action sends a clear message that the global community will not stand by and tolerate the use of chemical weapons", she said.

The prime minister's decision to confirm that Douma had come under gas attack and to lay the blame at Assad's door brings her public position into line with that of President Trump and President Macron.

He posted on Twitter: "Never said when an attack on Syria would take place. Could be very soon or not so soon at all!" he wrote.

Later, US defence secretary James Mattis told Congress he believed there was a chemical attack in Syria but that the US was "looking for the actual evidence".

He branded the option in Syria as a "choice between monsters on the one hand and maniacs on the other".

It comes nearly exactly a year after a chemical attack in the northern Syrian town of Khan Sheikhoun killed dozens of people.

Parliament is in recess until Monday, though it could be called back early for an emergency debate.

The constitutional grey area over the need for parliamentary approval for military action has led to repeated calls for reform.

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