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Strikes on Syria did not hit areas near Russian bases: Moscow

16 April 2018

Russia's Ministry of Defense says the airstrikes, which began overnight around 2am Irish time, were not in retaliation to the alleged chemical attack in Douma, which killed at least 12 people, including children.

"We have irrefutable evidence that this was another staged event, and that the secret services of a certain state that is now at the forefront of a Russophobic campaign was involved in this staged event", he said during a press conference.

Diplomats spent most of Saturday morning debating the recent strikes, which US, United Kingdom and French leaders all said were in response to President Bashar al-Assad's alleged use of chemical weapons against his own people.

The US and its allies believe the Syrian regime was behind the attack, but Russian Federation has long insisted it was staged by rebels in an attempt to provoke further Western intervention.

Russia's United Nations ambassador warned the priority in Syria was to avert US-led strikes that could lead to a confrontation between the world's two preeminent nuclear powers.

Moscow hardly needed a heads up that military action was coming.

Reuters/APA composite photo of President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Russia's denial that the Assad government was responsible for the chemical weapons attack, further angered Trump, one of the US officials said.

A top leader of Jaish al-Islam, a group which controlled Douma for years, told AFP it was Saturday's attack that forced them to accept a Russian-brokered deal and evacuate. "I hope no one would dare to launch such an adventure now", Lavrov said.

USA security officials immediately called for worldwide action to intervene in the situation after the chemical attack Saturday, and President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump: I'd only rejoin Pacific trade pact if deal was "substantially better" GOP unveils mock cover of Comey book with "ego" attack NY Daily News cover hits Trump over Comey book revelations MORE has threatened a possible military strike against the government forces. They are expected to arrive on Saturday.

In France, Macron claimed in a TV interview he had "proof" that Assad's regime had used chemical weapons and vowed a response "in due course". Both the Russian military and the Syrian government said they would facilitate the mission and ensure the inspectors' security.

Another senior official said Trump and his aides had largely settled on a consensus view on what strategy to take and that work continued on the timing and coordination with allies who plan to participate.

"The capital of a sovereign government, trying for years to survive under terrorist aggression, has been attacked". The government's capture of Douma, the last town held by the rebels in eastern Ghouta, marked a major victory for Assad.

Strikes on Syria did not hit areas near Russian bases: Moscow