Russia: Syria chemical attack staged by foreign agents

A girl sits on a water container at a camp for displaced Syrians near the town of Azaz. AFP

The US and British governments on Monday accused Russian Federation of conducting a massive campaign to compromise computer routers and firewalls around the world - from home offices to Internet providers - for espionage and possibly sabotage purposes.

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In a 2016 letter to federal employees, then-Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson noted that "for several years now, network infrastructure devices have been the attack vector of choice" for government-sponsored hacking groups.

"It will be in defense of a bedrock global norm that benefits all nations", Haley said. "It is a tremendous weapon in the hands of an adversary", he told journalists on a conference call.

As fears of a Russia confrontation with Western powers mount, French President Emmanuel Macron expressed his "deep concerns" over the situation in Syria in a phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Haley, who said she would be heading to Washington for meetings later Friday, added that the National Security Council has been cautious and methodical about a decision to retaliate over the attack on the last rebel-held stronghold in Syria, which left at least 49 dead. Moscow alleged soon after the suspected April 7 attack that the images of the victims in Douma were fakes.

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The joint statement said "multiple sources" - including private and public sector cyber security research organisations and allies - had reported such activity to the U.S. and United Kingdom governments.

"Again, we are being threatened".

At the United Nations meeting, Syrian Ambassador Bashar Jaafari warned that Syria would respond if the USA moved against his country. Last month the Trump administration blamed Russian Federation for a campaign of cyber attacks that targeted the United States power grid.

"It marks an important step in our fightback against state-sponsored aggression in cyberspace. We will not let anyone attack our sovereignty".

Russian defence ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said the military had "proof that testifies to the direct participation of Britain in the organising of this provocation in Eastern Ghouta".

A source familiar with the discussions about Syria said that despite his hawkish views on Russia, Bolton has not used his first days in office to push hard for a more extensive air campaign against targets in Syria.

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"The president has a dilemma", said this official.

It is not clear why Mr Borodin fell, but news reports in Russian Federation, citing police, said his apartment was locked from the inside. Because of its presence on the ground, Russian Federation vowed to protect its troops. The ministry also pointed at previous use of chemicals by the rebels in fighting with Syrian government troops.

These operations, he said, have made a significant contribution to coalition efforts to suppress Daesh propaganda, hindered their ability to coordinate attacks and protected coalition forces on the battlefield.

It was not clear Monday whether that compromise was part of the same campaign.

Otherwise, he played the traditional role of a national security adviser, making sure participants were able to offer their opinions, this official said.

Lavrov also said Russian specialists who examined the attack found no trace of chemical weapons. They are due to arrive in Syria Saturday to investigate.

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"Those three countries - the US, Britain and France - if they think they can attack us and attack our sovereignty, at the time, we would have no other choice except applying Article 51 of the charter that gives us the right to defend ourselves, the legitimate right to defend ourselves", Jaafari said.

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