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GLOBAL tensions continued to escalate today as US President Donald Trump warned that a strike against Syria would happen "very soon or not so soon at all.”
The drumbeat for war gathered pace with France, Britain and other allies backing firm action against Syria, including military intervention.
Mr Trump appeared to backtrack on earlier remarks when he told Russia to “get ready” for war tweeting: “"Never said when an attack on Syria would take place."
But he indicated that the US was ready to “respond” to Saturday’s alleged chemical attack in Douma.
US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis said that they were “still assessing the intelligence” and that military retaliation was an option if the president deems it an appropriate response.
Despite Mr Trump’s certainty that Mr Assad is responsible for the chemical attacks, the only source of information has been from groups operating in jihadist-controlled areas.
Mr Mattis admitted earlier this year that the US had no evidence that the Syrian government had used the chemical sarin against its own people.
However the US launched dozens of Tomahawk cruise missiles at a Syrian air base in April 2017 in retaliation for “illegal use of chemical weapons.”
“We have other reports from the battlefield from people who claim it’s been used. We do not have evidence of it,” Mr Mattis told a Pentagon press conference in February.
French President Emmanuel Macron today claimed to have proof that chemical weapons, “at least chlorine,” were used by the Syrian government last week – but did not give the source of his information.
Russia has warned Mr Trump that it would consider any attack launched against Syria to be a war crime which could trigger a direct US-Russian military clash.
A Lebanese news agency also reported the detention of an unknown number of British troops who were alleged to be operating near Damascus in preparation for a ground war against Syria.
The al-Mayadeen news channel claimed that the soldiers were held after fighting in eastern Ghouta.
Iran’s semi-official news agency Fars reported a plot by “terrorists and Nato forces” to attack Damascus following air attacks planned by the US, Israel and Jordan.
It said the victory of the Syrian army over the jihadist groups in Eastern Ghouta put an end to the plans.
Sources at Britain’s Ministry of Defence dismissed the claims as untrue.
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