Russian Federation calls an emergency session to discuss strikes on Syria


The United States and Britain have also blamed Syrian President Bashar Assad's government. That cautious response may dent the Russian leader's tough-man image but it won't undermine his gains in Syria or erode his authority at home.

Russia's U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia urged the United States and its allies on Thursday to refrain from military action against Syria over a suspected chemical weapons attack and said the "immediate priority is to avert the danger of war". And the three allies are considering a joint military strike in retaliation.

Such a clash could have quickly spun out of control - an extremely risky scenario that was widely compared to the 1962 Cuban missile crisis, when the world narrowly escaped a nuclear conflict.

No evidence has been shared by Macron, Lavrov or the Russian defence ministry.

Britain's UN Ambassador Karen Pierce meanwhile rejected a charge by a Russian defence ministry spokesman that Britain was involved in staging a fake chemical weapons attack in Douma.

Syria's Foreign Ministry called on the worldwide community "to strongly condemn this aggression", warning it would "pose a threat to global peace and security as a whole", in a statement published by the state-run Syrian Arab News Agency.

Worldwide investigators from the global chemical weapons watchdog are in Syria and were due to start their inquiry on Saturday into the suspected toxic gas attack.

The Kremlin's tight control over the media will help Putin avoid any significant damage to his carefully nurtured image of a strong leader.

The Russian defence ministry and the Kremlin have yet to make any comment on the strikes announced by US President Donald Trump.

In a televised statement Saturday, UK Prime Minister Theresa May said UK forces had undertaken a "limited and targeted strike" and that there had been "no practicable alternative to the use of force to degrade and deter the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime". He accused the United States, France and Britain of "demonstrating a blatant disregard for global law". Russian officials and lawmakers compared it to the 2003 invasion of Iraq that was launched on claims that Baghdad was developing suspected nuclear weapons - allegations that proved to be false.

For now, Putin has limited his response to calling an urgent meeting of the U.N. Security Council.

Senior Russian figures, including the head of the military, warned that United States missiles will be shot down and their launch sites targeted if Russian personnel come under threat, the report said. "It was something far bigger", he said.

Moscow may consider supplying S-300 surface to-air missile systems to Syria and "other countries", Colonel-General Sergei Rudskoi told a televised briefing on Saturday.