As Trump Threatens Syria, US-Russian Relations Deteriorate

A child affected by an alleged chemical attack in Syria over the weekend.               Syria Civil Defense White Helmets via APTN

A child affected by an alleged chemical attack in Syria over the weekend. Syria Civil Defense White Helmets via APTN

"We're looking very, very seriously, very closely at the whole situation", he told reporters.

Mr Trump met his national security team on the situation in Syria later and "no final decision has been made", the White House said in a statement.

The tweet came after Alexander Zasypkin, the Russian envoy to Beirut, said: "If there is an American strike, then we. will shoot down the missiles and target the positions from where they were launched".

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told Congress on Thursday morning that he was convinced that there was a chemical attack in Syria.

His latest tweet, on Thursday evening, said: "Never said when an attack on Syria would take place".

In Berlin, Chancellor Angela Merkel said Germany would not participate in any military strike on Syria.

Trump had vowed to take swift and decisive action against Syria since reports of a suspected poison gas attack on a rebel enclave that killed dozens of people.

Turkey has given conflicting messages about a USA -led response in Syria.

"Cabinet agreed that the Assad regime has a track record of the use of chemical weapons and it is highly likely that the regime is responsible for Saturday's attack", Downing Street said. It was not clear whether the presence of the investigators could affect the timing of any U.S. military action.

Mattis said he personally believes Syria is guilty of an "inexcusable" use of chemical weapons, while noting that the global fact-finding team would likely fall short of determining who was responsible.

Syria and its ally Russian Federation have both denied involvement amid worldwide outrage over Saturday's incident.

Trump was also slated to speak with French President Emanuel Macron on Thursday evening as the US and its allies weigh a response to the apparent chemical weapons attack on a rebel-held area of Syria last weekend. We'll see what happens.

Assad warned on Thursday that threats of western military action "will only contribute to further destabilisation in the region".

At the same time, France's President Emmanuel Macron was quoted as saying that he has "proof" that the Syrian government targeted civilians in Douma with chemical weapons last week.

Trump's latest comment came in a tweet after warning Russian Federation to "get ready" for a missile attack on its ally Syria.

"Any possible action will only cause more instability in the region and threaten global security and peace", Syrian state TV quoted Assad as saying at a meeting Thursday with a high-level Iranian delegation in Damascus.

A Kremlin spokesman has said claims of a chemical weapons attack were fabricated.

"Smart missiles should fly toward terrorists, not the legal government that has been fighting global terrorism for several years on its territory", Zakharova wrote in response to Trump's Wednesday tweet.

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