Russia Warns of "Consequences" as Putin Denounces Syria Strikes

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Trump's handling of the American response to the April 7 chemical attack blamed on the Assad regime is emerging as a test of his self-portrayal as a more decisive commander-in-chief than his predecessors.

Nasrallah also slammed the United States president calling him "unstable".

On Capitol Hill, Democrats grilled Defense Secretary Jim Mattis on the legality and constitutionality of Trump ordering an attack on Syria without explicit authorization from Congress. Mattis insisted it would be justified as an act of self-defense; he insisted he could not talk about military plans because an attack "is not yet in the offing".

Criticism of the allied airstrikes was limited.

Trump had also said last week that Putin bore responsibility for the "atrocity" in Douma because of his support for the Syrian government. He and Trump spoke repeatedly this week.

Russia's foreign ministry said Saturday that Western strikes on Syria came as the country had "a chance of a peaceful future", and warned of "consequences" following the launch of US-led strikes against Bashar Assad's regime in retaliation for a suspected chemical attack. The exchange follows the poisoning of a former Russian spy in Britain, and comes amid Moscow's stern warnings to the West against striking Syria.

Meanwhile, Bouthaina Shabaan, the political and media adviser to President Bashar al-Assad, said Wednesday that her country is not fearing the US threats of striking Syria.

In a series of Twitter broadsides that coincided with Russia-focused segments on his favored channel Fox News, Trump opened the door to military attacks against the Kremlin's Syrian allies and voiced the toughest anti-Russian rhetoric of his presidency.

"All nations and all people will be harmed if we allow Assad to normalize the use of chemical weapons".

"Russia must decide if it will continue down this dark path, or if it will join with civilized nations as a force for stability and peace", Trump said.

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Syria and its backers, Russian Federation and Iran, say reports of the attack were fabricated by rebels, and rescue workers in Douma have accused the USA of seeking to use it as a pretext to attack the government.

Meanwhile, Moscow said the formerly rebel-held district of Eastern Ghouta - including Douma, the target of Saturday's attack - had been "totally stabilized" and would soon be patrolled by Russian military police.

Dozens of people in Douma died and hundreds were injured in the attack, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Volunteer first responders and activists claimed a chemical attack by the Syrian government killed more than 40 people in the town of Douma, which drew worldwide outrage and prompted Washington and its allies to consider a military response.

"America does not seek an indefinite presence in Syria under no circumstances. And in the coming days, we will announce our decision", he added.

"A large volume of high-resolution, reliable photos and video from Duma clearly document victims suffering from asphyxiation and foaming at the mouth, with no visible signs of external wounds", the White House said in a statement Friday. German Chancellor Angela Merkel says she supports the military action, and called it necessary and appropriate to preserve the effectiveness on the worldwide ban on chemical weapons. At the same time, she made clear that Germany wouldn't stand in the way of a response by its allies. James Mattis said at a press conference Friday night.

So the equation is Russian Federation versus US and Israel versus Iran. "It's alarming but it's not a reason to panic".

The U.S., France and Britain have been in extensive consultations about launching a military strike as early as the end of this week, U.S. officials have said.

"The most important thing is to refrain from ill-considered and risky actions that would constitute a gross violation of the UN Charter and would have unpredictable consequences", Putin's office said in a statement after he and French President Emmanuel Macron spoke by telephone.

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