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US mulls fresh sanctions on Russia over Putin's support for Syrian ally

BS Web Team/ 17 Apr 18 | 12:09 PM

People stand in front of damaged buildings, in the town of Douma, the site of a suspected chemical weapons attack, near Damascus, Syria

In a fresh turn of events, White House may consider imposing fresh sanctions on Russia, just days after the US, UK and France collectively attacked Syria for its chemical weapon programme. 

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"We are considering additional sanctions on Russia and a decision will be made in the near future," White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement. Meanwhile, US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said the sanctions would target those who were enabling Syrian leader Bashar Assad's government to continue using chemical weapons.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad faced worldwide criticism for an alleged chemical attack involving chlorine gas on April 7 in the suburb of Douma. 

Following the chemical attack, on April 14, the US, UK and France dropped more than 100 bombs near Syrian capital on targets believed to be associated with manufacturing or harbouring chemical weapons. 

Russia did not directly retaliate to the joint military action and later said in a statement that no missile entered the airspace controlled by the Russian forces in Syria.

Here are the top 10 developments in the Syrian conflict and the likelihood of the US imposing fresh sanctions on Russia for supporting Syria:

1) PM May legitimises Syria strike back homeBritish Prime Minister Theresa May defended the action in British parliament and said to the MPs that it was "legally and morally right" for the UK to join air strikes against the Syrian regime to prevent "further human suffering".

She told MPs on Monday there was "clear evidence" the Assad government was behind the Douma chemical weapons attack

But Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said the action was "legally questionable".

2) Merkel and Erdogan discuss Syria over phone callAngela Merkel, German Chancellor and the Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan discussed the Syria situation and the possible political process there.

Spokesperson of the German federal government, Steffen Seibert said at a press conference that the two leaders agreed on telephone call that the situation was particularly urgent, Xinhua news agency reported.

Also Read: US, allies attack Syria; Iran warns of regional consequences: Top updates

Merkel and Erdogan also exchanged views on the possibilities of promoting the political process in Syria, according to Seibert, who added the two leaders also discussed bilateral relations.

3) OPCW team to reach Douma today: Chemical watchdog OPCW team is expected in the Syrian town of Douma today to investigate the alleged chemical attack by the Syrian Regime on April 7.

"Tomorrow (Tuesday) the security services of the United Nations ... will test the routes. And on Wednesday is when we plan the arrival of the OPCW experts," a senior Russian official said at a press conference in the Russian embassy in The Hague.

4) France earmarks $62 mn for developmental projects in Syria: France has announced of spending around $62 million on new dev3elopmental projects in Syria which will be carried out by 20 humanitarian agencies working on the ground in Syria.  

Emmanuel Macron made the decision "in the face of the critical humanitarian situation" in the war-torn country, his office said in a statement.

Macron met earlier with representatives of the aid groups who spelt out the humanitarian needs of a population that has endured seven years of war.

Also Read: France urges Russia to join peace push after Syria strike

5) Protests against US-led strike: US Embassy in Cyprus was rattled with protests from residents of Cyprus, Palestine and Syria who waved Syrian flags and chanted anti-Western slogans in retaliation to the US-led airstrike on Syria.

Protesters from a coalition of left-wing groups and Cyprus' communist-rooted AKEL party said the "aggression" against Syria on Saturday was unjustified without proof the regime of President Bashar Assad used chemical weapons on its own people.

"It hasn't been proven that chemical weapons were used and by whom, if they were used," Christina Christofia, the daughter of former Cyprus President Dimitris Christofias, said yesterday.

6) Iranian delegation to visit Syria: Iranian delegation consisting of lawmakers will visit Syria on Tuesday after the US-led strikes on Syria.

The delegation will be headed by Alaeddin Boroujerdi, chairman of the parliament's National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, Mohammad Javad Jamali told Tasnim news agency on Monday.

The Iranian delegation would hold talks with Syrian senior officials to discuss a host of political issues, including the recent missile strike launched on Syria by the US and its allies, Britain and France, Xinhua reported.

7) Iran denounces strikes as a strategic mistakeThe Iranian Foreign Ministry on Monday blamed the "strategic mistakes" of the US policies for the crisis in the volatile Middle East.

"The strategic mistakes made by the US are the cause of region's abnormal situation," Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi said, Xinhua news agency reported.

The US-led invasions in the Middle East are not new, as they "seek to dictate their expansion policies" in the region with occasional military actions under "false" pretexts, Qasemi said.

8) Italy calls for strategic dialogue with Russia over Syria: Italy's Foreign Minister Angelino Alfano on Monday urged Western allies, especially the US, to keep channels of communication open with Syria's top ally Russia, calling Moscow "a leading player" in the war-wracked Middle Eastern country.

"It is vitally important to keep Washington in negotiations led by the United Nations and in this context we must also keep dialogue open with the main players in the (Syrian) crisis, first and foremost Russia," Alfano told a European Union summit here.

9) Russia denies interfering with evidence in Douma: Russia has denied interfering with evidence at the site of a suspected chemical weapons attack in Syria's Douma that claimed over 70 lives and led to military intervention by the US, the UK and France.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in an interview to the BBC said: "I can guarantee that Russia has not tampered with the site."

He spoke as the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) watchdog held an urgent meeting. Its fact-finding team reached Syria on Saturday, the day of the US-led airstrikes against Syrian government targets in response to the April 7 attack.

10) EU urges Syria talks post US-led attack: EU foreign ministers today backed "all efforts" to stop Syria using chemical weapons, after weekend strikes by Britain, France and the US, but called for renewed efforts to find a political solution to the seven-year war.

The 28 ministers condemned the military offensive, backed by Russia, that the Syrian government is waging against rebels and called for an immediate ceasefire to allow humanitarian access.

US, French and British missiles destroyed suspected chemical weapons development and storage sites in Syria on Saturday in response to an alleged chemical attack in the town of Douma which killed at least 40 people.

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