United Nations calls urgent Syria meeting after Trump threat

United Nations calls urgent Syria meeting after Trump threat

The World Health Organization said on Wednesday that 43 people had died in Saturday's attack on the town of Douma from "symptoms consistent with exposure to highly toxic chemicals", and more than 500 in all had been treated.

"It's a disgraceful situation", Trump told reporters before a meeting of military officials at the White House on Monday night.

Velayati's comments, coming after a major victory for Damascus which Assad has said is the reason for Western threats, threw down the gauntlet to Trump, who recently said he wanted US troops out of Syria relatively soon. The U.S. ambassador in Moscow, John Huntsman, said in a video, "Before we took action, the United States communicated with" Russia to "reduce the danger of any Russian or civilian casualties".

Trump was reacting to a warning from Russian Federation on Tuesday that any USA missiles fired at Syria over the deadly assault on a rebel enclave would be shot down and the launch sites targeted.

If the USA action follows the pattern of a previous punitive strike on Syria a year ago, it will begin with a salvo of cruise missiles fired from United States warships in the Mediterranean, as Trump implied when he tweeted they would be "nice, new and 'smart'".

The White House said Wednesday that the administration had not finalized its decisions about a course of action in Syria.

That incident, which killed hundreds, also took place in Eastern Ghouta.

Meanwhile, the Syrian government has put its forces on "high alert" amid the looming threat of a U.S. military response.

Mattis also ignored a question about whether he was concerned about telegraphing USA military moves in Syria, a question appearing to refer to Trump's earlier tweet on Wednesday.

Disputing the Russian military's contention that Syrian air defense units downed 71 allied missiles, McKenzie said no US or allies missiles were stopped.

A joint military operation, possibly with France rather than the U.S.in the lead, could send a message of global unity about enforcing the prohibitions on chemical weapons and counter Syria's political and military support from Russian Federation and Iran.

The world awaits action by President Donald Trump, evidently the only major leader able and willing to punish Assad for despicable acts of terror against noncombatants in a grinding civil war.

Russian Federation has warned of "grave repercussions" if the United States strikes Assad.

Although officials said the singular target was Mr Assad's chemical weapons capability, his air force - including helicopters he allegedly has used to drop chemical weapons on civilians - were spared.

News of the OPCW mission to Douma also came as the UN Security Council was due to vote later Tuesday on rival USA and Russian draft resolutions in response to the alleged attack.

Syrian television reported that Syria's air defenses, which are substantial, responded to the attack.

Officials say that Mattis' national defense strategy, which identifies Russian Federation as among the chief threats at a moment when the United States is looking to transition away from the insurgent conflicts of the past 17 years, has provided clarity about the Trump-era Pentagon's top priorities. This is in contrast to an incident one year ago in which the US government had video and other evidence of certain aspects of an actual attack by Syrian aircraft, which involved the use of sarin gas.

But across Western capitals opposition to military action also grew.

Asked about Trump's tweet about an impending attack on Syria, former Defense Secretary William Cohen, who ran the Pentagon for President Bill Clinton, said on CNN that it "compromises the mission somewhat".

The British government has signaled that it was ready to back U.S. military action against Syria, saying it was "highly likely" the Assad regime used chemical weapons on its own people and that such action could not go unchallenged. From a distance, US missiles hitting suburbs of the capital sounded like thunder.