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April 14, 2018

Threat of US-Russia clash hangs over Syria


April 14, 2018

Russia says West only interested in

overthrowing Assad; UN chief warns against war

Ag Agencies

BEIRUT; The prospect of Western military action in Syria that could lead to confrontation with Russia hung over the Middle East on Friday but there was no clear sign that a US-led attack was imminent.

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. Increasing tensions between world powers could lead to a “full-blown military escalation” in Syria, the UN chief warned Friday.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged the Security Council to “act responsibly in these dangerous circumstances.” Russia accused the West of having the sole aim in Syria of overthrowing the government as it urged US, French and British leaders to refrain from military action.

“We continue to observe dangerous military preparations for an illegal act of force against a sovereign state,” Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia told the UN Security Council. Nebenzia said he “cannot exclude” war between the United States and Russia.

“The immediate priority is to avert the danger of war,” he told reporters.“We hope there will be no point of no return.“ Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Moscow was in contact with Washington but the atmosphere was alarming.

“God forbid anything adventurous will be done in Syria following the Libyan and Iraqi experience,” he told a news conference.During his meeting with Trump and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Joe Dunford, Mattis pushed for more evidence of the Assad regime’s culpability for the attack, to bolster the case for air strikes, The New York Times reported.

In France, Macron claimed in a TV interview he had “proof” that Assad’s regime had used chemical weapons and vowed a response “in due course”. But he also appeared anxious to avoid a wider conflict, saying France would “in no way allow an escalation”.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman Steffen Seibert told a news conference on Friday that Damascus had a record of using chemical weapons and that there were “strong

indications pointing towards the Syrian regime” in this case.

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