Syrian government to blame for chemical-weapons attack, Freeland says

A U.N. convoy carrying aid enters Douma a besieged town in eastern Ghouta Syria in March

A U.N. convoy carrying aid enters Douma a besieged town in eastern Ghouta Syria in March

Donald Trump has launched air strikes with United Kingdom and France that the president said were aimed at the Syrian regime's chemical weapons facilities in response to Saturday's poison gas attack in Damascus.

Russia's military says Britain was behind the alleged April 7 chemical attack that killed dozens of Syrians in a rebel-held suburb of Damascus.

British Prime Minister Theresa May won backing from her senior ministers on Thursday to take unspecified action with the United States and France to deter further use of chemical weapons by Syria.

President Trump on Friday announced that he has approved military strikes in Syria against the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Assad and Velayati criticised Western threats to carry out strikes on Syria in response to the alleged use of toxic weapons at the weekend, the presidency said.

In her own address to the British people, May said diplomatic channels had failed to stop Syria's use of chemical weapons.

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

Explosions lit up the skies over Damascus, the Syrian capital, as Trump announced the airstrikes from the White House.

Mattis said the United States during the Obama administration tried to deal with the chemical weapons when he was enlisting the Russians, who were complicit in the Assad regime retaining those weapons. The sites reportedly include "two Syrian airfields, a research center and a chemical weapons facility".

"We will try to make it better but it is a troubled place", Trump said. "Russia was supposed to guarantee Assad would not use chemical weapons, and Russian Federation did the opposite".

Despite having declared on Monday he would make "major decisions" on a United States response to the Douma attack within 48 hours, Mr Trump has now downplayed the prospect of immediate action.

At a Pentagon briefing, Dunford said the latest air strikes were planned to minimise the risk of casualties among Russia's forces in Syria.

President Donald Trump warned on Wednesday that missiles "will be coming" in response to the Douma incident.

The president again said that he supported the withdrawal of US forces.

He described the main aim as establishing "a strong deterrent" against chemical weapons use.

Iran, which has been operating militarily in Syria and backs Syrian President Bashar Assad, has threatened to respond to an Israeli airstrike on the T-4 airbase in Syria on Monday.

The Syrian government and Russian Federation have called reports of the attack bogus.

Russian Federation and Syria have denied any involvement in the alleged chemical attack.

The Syrian Army reports shooting down 20 US, UK and French missiles.

Questions about the timetable came a day after Trump signaled an attack in a response to a Russian threat to shoot down USA missiles aimed at Syria.

Medical sources and activists in Syria said blood, urine and hair follicle samples were smuggled in batches to Turkey after rebel groups and their families were pushed out of the area by the Assad regime, CNN reported earlier on Friday.

Syria's military has repositioned some air assets to avoid missile strikes, USA officials told Reuters.

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