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POSTED | 13:48 PM | 13-04-2018

West hesitates on Syria move

Western powers weighed their options on Friday (April 13, 2018) over possible strikes against Syria’s regime as pressure built to avoid an escalation and Russia stepped up its warnings against military action which it said could lead to “war,” AFP reported.

The UN Security Council was to meet again on Friday, at Russia’s request, to try to defuse the standoff, as US President Donald Trump appeared to back away from imminent action, days after warning Russia to “get ready” for missile strikes.

After a crunch meeting with national security advisors on Thursday, the White House said it had not yet decided how to retaliate to last week’s suspected chemical attack which the US, France and Britain blame on Bashar al-Assad’s regime.

“No final decision has been made,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said, adding that Trump would confer with French President Emmanuel Macron and British Prime Minister Theresa May.

Later, a White House briefing on a call between Trump and May said that they “continued their discussion of the need for a joint response to Syria’s use of chemical weapons.”

A Downing Street spokesperson added: “They agreed it was vital that the use of chemical weapons did not go unchallenged, and on the need to deter the further use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime.”

But US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis struck a cautious note, telling lawmakers that the need to “stop the murder of innocent people” had to be weighed up against the risk of things “escalating out of control.”

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.”

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