BEIRUT (Reuters) – The prospect of a Western military action in Syria that could lead to a confrontation with Russia hovered over the Middle East on Friday, but there were no clear signs that a US-led attack would take place. UU Out imminent.
International chemical weapons experts traveled to Syria to investigate an alleged gas attack by government forces in the city of Douma that killed dozens of people. Two days ago, the president of the United States, Donald Trump, warned that the missiles will "come" in response to that attack.
The allies of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad were anxious on Friday to blame the crisis not on him but on Trump.
Russian Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich said that international relations should not depend on a person's morning mood, in apparent reference to Trump's tweets.
"We can not depend on what someone on the other side of the ocean takes in his head in the morning, we can not take such risks," Dvorkovich said, speaking in a forum.
Russia has warned the West against the attack on Assad, which also has the support of Iran, and says there is no evidence of a chemical attack in Douma, a city near Damascus that had been held by the rebels until this month.
Vassily Nebenzia, Moscow's ambassador to the United Nations, said he "can not exclude" the war between the United States and Russia.
"The immediate priority is to avoid the danger of war," he told reporters. "We hope there is no point of no return."
Sheikh Naim Qassem, vice president of Hezbollah, supported by Iran told the Lebanese newspaper al-Joumhouria: "The conditions do not point to a total war that will happen … unless Trump and (Israeli leader Benjamin) Netanyahu lose their heads completely."  US allies have offered strong words of support to Washington, but clear military plans have not yet emerged.
British Prime Minister Theresa May won the backing of her top ministers on Thursday to take unspecified steps with the United States and France to discourage Syria's further use of chemical weapons.
Trump was also expected to speak with French President Emmanuel Macron, who said on Thursday that France had evidence that the Syrian government carried out Douma's attack and would decide whether to strike back when all the needed information.
For a graph on an overview of chemical warfare, click on tmsnrt.rs/2CnTeQh
ASSAD TAKES GRIP
Trump himself appeared on Thursday to cast doubt on at least the moment of any military action headed by the United States, tweeting: "It was never said when it would produce an attack on Syria, it could be very soon or not so soon! "
He met with his national security team about the situation in Syria later in the day and" no final decision has been made, "he said. the White House in a statement.
"We continue to evaluate intelligence and are involved in conversations with our partners and allies," he said.
A team of experts from the global chemical weapons control body, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, was traveling to Syria and will begin its investigations into the Douma incident on Saturday, the Dutch-based agency said.
The capture of Douma has ensured a great victory for Assad, crushing what was once a center of the insurgency near Damascus, and underlines his impregnable position in the war.
It has cemented its control over most of the more populated western part of the country, with rebels and jihadist insurgents largely contained in two areas on the northern and southern borders of Syria.
They still control the northwestern province of Idlib, near Turkey, and a southern region around Deraa, on the border with Jordan. Turkish forces and rebel allies control the territory in northern Syria, while Kurdish forces backed by the United States maintain large areas of the northeast, and bags of Islamic State fighters remain.
But none of those already directly threaten Assad's control of power, which has been reinforced by Russian air power and Iran-backed fighters on the ground.
Report of Alistair Smout, Tom Perry, Ellen Francis and Maria Tsvetkova; Written by Andrew Roche; Edition of Angus MacSwan