Blood samples show nerve agent, chlorine in Syria gas attack

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"Our president has not yet made a decision about possible action in Syria", Haley told a Security Council meeting.

What seems to be delaying that decision is the fear a strike could spark a much bigger war than anyone wants.

"The government appears to be waiting for instructions from President Donald Trump on how to proceed", Corbyn said in a statement.

The Secretary of Defence Jim Mattis has made it clear he has significant concerns over the unforeseen consequences of a strike on Syria. Trump wrote in a Thursday morning tweet that an attack could happen "very soon or not so soon at all".

In the call, the two leaders had agreed that the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad "had established a pattern of unsafe behaviour in relation to the use of chemical weapons", Downing Street said.

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Russian lawmakers have warned the United States that Moscow would view an airstrike on Syria as a war crime and that it could trigger a direct U.S-Russian military clash. 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.

The United States accused the Syrian government on Friday of using banned chemical arms at least 50 times since Syria's civil war began seven years ago - far higher than the number of attacks that had been publicly confirmed. USA officials have been consulting with France, Britain and other allies on a possible joint military operation, but the timing remained in doubt Wednesday.

The British Prime Minister, Theresa May, was convening a meeting of her Cabinet on Thursday afternoon, at which she is expected to make the case for supporting the United States in any military action against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

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".

France has proof that the Syrian government launched chlorine gas attacks and has crossed a line that could prompt French airstrikes, President Emmanuel Macron said Thursday.

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That prompted Mr Trump to tweet: "Russia vows to shoot down any and all missiles fired at Syria". Trump notably did not rule out plans to attack Syria in retaliation for the weekend's suspected chemical attack on civilians at the hands of the Assad regime. The Syrian government has denied the allegations.

"Japan can not make a judgment on whether Assad's government forces really used chemical weapons", a senior Foreign Ministry official said of the latest attack.

According to the statement, May described the chemical attack on Douma in Eastern Ghouta as a "shocking and barbaric act which killed up to 75 people, including children, in the most appalling and inhumane way".

May and Trump had also "agreed it was vital that the use of chemical weapons did not go unchallenged, and on the need to deter the further use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime".

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