Top general: Russian military to respond if USA strikes Syria

Top general: Russian military to respond if USA strikes Syria

Earlier, US Ambassador to the UN Nikkie Haley had warned that if the Security Council fails to act on Syria, Washington is ready to act on its own, just as it did previous year when it bombed a Syrian government airbase, which Washington claimed was used for a sarin attack.

Haley said attacking Syria was "not the path we prefer" and said the UN Security Council's "failure to act" would be the cause, if Washington chooses to take military action. "When the worldwide community consistently fails to act, there are times when states are compelled to take their own action".

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has warned that Syrian rebels under siege in the enclave of eastern Ghouta will be given no relief, saying a 30-day cease-fire approved by the United Nations does not include "terrorists".

An AFP correspondent in Douma said the morning was relatively quiet in the town, allowing civilians to venture out of bomb shelters to check on the destruction in their homes or gather food.

But Hasan Yahya, 72, said his heart was heavy as he left his family behind in Douma.

In Dweir, Sheikh's was one of 17 families - 76 people - to have arrived at the reception centre from Misraba since Saturday after the army retook the area.

With the Ghouta now split into different parts, Delwan said his rebel faction was in charge only of evacuations from Douma, and not from other towns.

The commander said that the plant, which consists of a two-story building with a basement located between Douma and al-Shefounieh, and that it included a lab for making toxic chemicals containing equipment of Saudi origin and materials and protection gear of Western origin.

In an apparent sign of local discontent with the rebel policy of holding out, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group reported that hundreds of people protested in the town of Kafr Batna to demand a deal to end the onslaught. The spokesman for Failaq al-Rahman, the main rebel group there, was not immediately available for comment.

She reminded the council that President Donald Trump had ordered missile strikes against a Syrian government airbase in April 2017 after accusing forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad of using sarin gas against civilians.

"I haven't seen my daughter for a month", said the 40-year-old, who was evacuated by the army with her husband and four of her other children.

At least 353,935 people have died since, including more than 106,000 civilians, the Observatory said on Monday, providing a new overall death toll for the conflict.

The battle for Eastern Ghouta is becoming the largest conflict in the almost eight-year-old civil war.

"After more than 20 days of the barbaric campaign and mass annihilation of eastern Ghouta. this has led to a deterioration of the humanitarian and food situation to a catastrophic level", it said in a statement.

The government assault on eastern Ghouta has become one of the bloodiest of the war, with rebels on course for their worst defeat since the battle of Aleppo in 2016.

The largest rebel group in besieged eastern Ghouta has vowed to keep fighting, even as the Syrian government pushes on with an assault that has captured more than half of the rebel enclave.

The agreement would offer safe passage to rebels and civilians who wanted to leave and the town would come under government control.

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