Trump appealed directly to Russia

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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. Britain also scheduled an emergency cabinet meeting.

Two sessions of the UN Security Council failed to calm the tensions between Russian Federation and the United States, which are on opposite sides in the conflict in Syria, while the USA responded to Russian Federation placing the Black Sea Fleet on alert by announcing that the Harry S. Truman aircraft carrier and a group of ships accompanying it will be stationed in the Mediterranean starting on Wednesday.

"Get ready Russian Federation, because they will be coming, nice and new and 'smart!'" Mr Trump said in an early morning tweet on Wednesday.

"We still believe that it is very necessary to avoid any steps which can trigger an escalation in tensions in Syria", Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

Defence Secretary James Mattis said the U.S. was still assessing the chemical attack, but added that the military stood ready "to provide military options if they are appropriate as the president determines".

The United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres did not strongly condemn or praise the airstrikes, instead urging "all Member States to show restraint in these risky circumstances and to avoid any acts that could escalate the situation and worsen the suffering of the Syrian people". The NATO alliance gave its full backing; NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said in Brussels that the attack was about ensuring that chemical weapons can not be used with impunity.

Meanwhile, the Russian defense ministry said the Syrian regime flag was flying in Douma - the target of Saturday's attack - which it said indicated government forces have taken full control over the formerly rebel-held district of Eastern Ghouta.

Russia's Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova in her response to Trump's tweet said: "Smart missiles should fly towards terrorists, not [Syria's] lawful government, which has spent several years fighting against worldwide terrorism on its territory".

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"Russia has warned USA representatives, publicly as well as through proper channels, over the grave consequences that could arise if these strikes happen and whether deliberately or otherwise Russian citizens are hurt", Russia's envoy to the European Union Vladimir Chizhov said.

"I hope no one would dare to launch such an adventure now", Mr Lavrov said.

"The intelligence provided certainly paints a different picture", Sanders said.

US President Donald Trump hastily called it a "humanitarian disaster for no reason whatsoever", warning that a "big price" would be paid.

"On a strategic level, it's how do we keep this from escalating out of control, if you get my drift on that", he said. "Get ready Russian Federation, because they will be coming, nice and new and 'smart!'", Trump wrote in a post on Twitter.

Our relationship with Russian Federation is worse now than it has ever been, and that includes the Cold War. Stop the arms race?

She also noted that Trump has said "he intends to hold Russian and Iran accountable for enabling the Assad regime and its war crimes".

A global chemical warfare watchdog group said its fact-finding mission would go as planned in Douma, where the apparent use of poison gas against civilians on April 7 that killed more than 40 people compelled the Western allies to launch their attack.

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But British Prime Minister Theresa May said there was little doubt the Syrian government used a barrel bomb to deliver the chemicals at Douma.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) said in a Wednesday statement that it is deeply alarmed by reports of the suspected use of toxic chemicals in Douma. "We're still working on this".

Damascus agreed to hand over its chemical arsenal in 2013, narrowly avoiding American and French air strikes in retaliation for a suspected sarin attack. It was not clear when the visit would take place.

Dunford said the USA did not coordinate targets with or notify the Russian government of the strikes, beyond normal airspace "de-confliction" communications. After alleging the strike was associated with chemical facilities and storage sites, US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Joe Dunford said it was a one-time strike, and it was completed in less than 60 minutes.

Trump made his latest statement in a tweet Thursday morning.

The Syrian Foreign Ministry has denied the accusation, calling rebels' claims "premeditated pretexts".

But Nebenzia said the goal was to oust President Bashar al-Assad from power. The White House said Thursday he would consult further with allies.

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