As Russia warns against United States strike, Trump threatens missiles

Bodies of the victims of an alleged chemical attack in rebel-held Douma Syria

Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the only communications that took place between the United States and Russian Federation before the operation were "the normal deconfliction of the airspace, the procedures that are in place for all of our operations in Syria".

In another tweet, Trump called the Syrian leader a "gas killing animal".

Russia's Defense Ministry said that none of the missiles entered zones guarded by Russia's missile defense system.

But for the USA, the only responsible option by now is to forsake the procedural wrangles, diplomatic deadlocks and often perverse fictions of the UN.

The hellish scenes have played out before in Syria: women and children dead or suffering in agony, the targeted victims of chemical weapons attacks.

This is not exclusively a matter of protecting the people of Syria from chemical attacks.

He said the other two targets were storage facilities for chemical weapons and equipment near the central city of Homs, with one of the targets also containing "an important command post".

Russian leader Vladimir Putin reaffirmed the Kremlin's skepticism about the allies' Douma claim, saying Russian military experts had found no trace of the attack. So does North Korea's assassination past year of Kim Jong Un's half-brother, hit with VX nerve agent in a Malaysian airport.

Moscow and the Syrian regime deny that the gas attack took place or that either regime was involved.

Fifteen months into Donald Trump's presidency, the United States finds itself on the cusp of a grave constitutional emergency at home - and closer to stumbling into direct conflict with Russian Federation than at any time since the Cold War.

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In 2013, Parliament voted to stop David Cameron ordering United Kingdom forces to join U.S. strikes after another chemical weapons attack near Damascus. He called on Moscow to change course and join the West in seeking a more responsible regime in Damascus.

This week, the United Nations failed yet again. He added that the US expects the Syrian government and its allies to conduct a "significant disinformation campaign", which the Pentagon would rebut with additional information Saturday morning. That, too, was voted down. But we've been such a peripheral player in Syria that we need to demonstrate our ability to inflict real pain on the regime before we'll obtain anything approaching the amount of leverage necessary for a successful negotiation, even assuming one is possible. This is how the United Nations works, a feature designed right into its nobly-intended but morally obtuse DNA. As permanent members of the council, Russian Federation and the USA both have the power to veto.

So why should Trump respond at all to another of Assad's dastardly deeds? A US -led coalition has been conducting airstrikes in Syria since September 2014 as part of a largely successful effort to break the IS grip on both Syria and Iraq. In 2012, the UN in tandem with the Arab League dispatched former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan as a mediator between Assad and the Syrian opposition.

The seven-year war in Syria, with estimates of death tolls in the 400,000 range, is as intractable as it is barbaric. "We confined it to the chemical weapons-type targets".

Targeted economic sanctions against Syria and its allies, Iran and Russian Federation could still be used.

The UN Security Council met to debate the strikes but rejected a Russian resolution calling for condemnation of the "aggression" by the three Western allies.

Satellites and other United States intelligence aircraft are watching closely for signs that Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad, as well as Russian units - are using the advance notice to move aircraft, weapons and personnel out of the way of a potential attack.

At the House hearing, Democrats grilled Mattis on the wisdom and legality of Trump ordering an attack on Syria without explicit authorization from Congress. Mattis argued it would be justified as an act of self-defense, with 2,000 USA ground troops in Syria; he insisted he could not talk about military plans because an attack "is not yet in the offing".

But in a sign of his growing impatience for action, Mr Trump tweeted a warning that air strikes were imminent, saying the missiles "will be coming".

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