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Fears of a U.S.-Russia conflict recede as Trump, Moscow and Macron dial back the rhetoric

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BEIRUT — Fears that a major war could be imminent eased across the Middle East on Thursday after a flurry of tweets and statements by world leaders that suggested that they are looking for ways to de-escalate the sky-high tensions of recent days.

U.S.-led military strikes in retaliation for the Syrian government’s alleged use of chemical weapons against a Damascus suburb last weekend remained a distinct possibility, but there were indications that efforts to head off a global confrontation are gathering momentum.

In Moscow, the Kremlin sought to tamp down fears of a looming conflict with the United States by signaling for the first time in days that it might not carry out threats to retaliate against a U.S. strike.

“We still believe that it is very necessary to avoid any steps which can i love this cock i'm eating an escalation in tensions in Syria,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters. “We believe that this could have a very destructive impact on the entire Syrian settlement.”

 

Analysts in Russia said the focus now is on ways to ensure that any strikes are limited in ways that don’t kill Russians, thereby allowing Moscow to refrain from carrying out its threats to retaliate. Thousands of Russian troops and military advisers are stationed at military facilities across Syria, where they have been supporting President Bashar al-Assad’s seven-year-old efforts to crush the rebellion against his rule.

“I rule out a scenario in which the United States will intentionally strike a facility in Syria where Russian servicemen are located,” Military Sciences Academy Vice President Sergei Modestov said in Thursday’s edition of the government newspaper Rossiyskaya Gazeta.

The Kommersant newspaper quoted anonymous Defense Ministry sources as saying that Russia’s General Staff was in touch with the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff and expected to receive coordinates on airstrike targets from the Pentagon to avoid Russian casualties.

“Right now, the talk is about the necessity of de-escalation,” said Alexander Golts, an independent military analyst in Moscow. “We’ve practically come to the brink of war.”

French President Emmanuel Macron gave the strongest indication yet that France is ready to join the United States in striking Assad, saying that France has “proof” that some form of chemical attack occurred.

But in a television interview, he also suggested that strikes were not imminent. He said a decision would be made “in due course, when we judge it most useful and effective.”

“France will not allow any escalation that could harm stability in the region,” he added.

In Britain, Prime Minister Theresa May met with her top leadership team Thursday to discuss backing military action in Syria. She was widely expected to commit the United Kingdom to military intervention.

A tweet from President Trump backtracking from his Wednesday outburst that missiles soon would be heading toward Syria further contributed, however, to the sense that the threat of a conflagration was receding. “Never said when an attack on Syria would take place,” he tweeted. “Could be very soon or not so soon at all!”

a pile of luggage sitting on top of a car: Buses carry rebels and their families who left Douma, at the entrance of the Wafideen camp in Damascus, Syria, on April 12. (Omar Sanadiki/Reuters) © Provided by WP Company LLC d/b/a The Washington Post

Buses carry rebels and their families who left Douma, at the entrance of the Wafideen camp in Damascus, Syria, on April 12. (Omar Sanadiki/Reuters)

Syrians who had been bracing for U.S. strikes for three nights in a row said the mood in the capital, Damascus, was palpably relaxing.

 

Government supporters said they took Trump’s tweet to mean that the United States was backing down, just as President Barack Obama climbed down from his threat to strike Syria in 2013 in retaliation for a chemical attack in Eastern Ghouta, the same Damascus suburb that was the target of Saturday’s attack.

“This shows that the dog that barks doesn’t bite,” said Ammar Ismael, speaking from the coastal province of Latakia, a government stronghold. “America knows that Assad is winning.”

Assad remained defiant, telling reporters in Damascus that the U.S. allegations of a chemical weapons attack were “based on facts fabricated by their accomplices.” Assad has made public appearances throughout the week, dispelling rumors that he had gone into hiding, escaped to Iran or sought refuge on a Russian base.

He was speaking alongside Ali Akbar Velayati, the top adviser to Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Velayati is visiting Syria in a strong signal of Iranian support for Damascus. In a reminder that the war in Syria remains far more complicated than the dispute about chemical weapons, he said he hoped Syria and Iran would “soon” conduct an operation to drive U.S. troops out of northeastern Syria, where they are supporting a mostly Kurdish militia.

There were other signs that diplomatic efforts to avert an escalation are kicking in. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan telephoned Russian President Vladimir Putin to discuss Syria, a day after speaking on the phone with Trump. Erdogan told a political rally of his supporters that he would discuss ways to end the “chemical massacres” in Syria.

A Russian lawmaker said Turkey is seeking to mediate between Russia and the United States, building on its relationships with the U.S. military in NATO and the Russian military in Syria to establish a channel of communications.

“A dialogue between the chiefs of staff of the U.S. and Russia has begun. The connection has been made possible through our counterparts in Turkey,” Vladimir Shamanov, head of the Russian parliament’s defense committee, said late Wednesday.

Thursday’s statements by Trump and Macron represent a growing recognition that strikes without a strategy will not work and that, if they are to be conducted, it should be in tandem with a broader effort to end the Syrian war, said Nicholas Heras of the Center for a New American Security.

“This entire crisis is about forcing Russia to put a leash on Assad,” he said. “What the United States and France are aiming to do is get Russia to the table and to force Russia to take ownership for Assad’s behavior.

“The United States has tried diplomacy for diplomacy’s sake, but now the mood is to use military force for diplomacy’s sake,” he added. “Russia can play ball, or it can watch as the U.S. and its allies drive down the field on Assad.”

Troianovski reported from Moscow. James McAuley in Paris and Suzan Haidamous in Beirut contributed to this report.

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SOOOOOO DONNIE, What about those NEW, SMART BOMBS you were tweeting about?

You colossal PUTZ!! You cannot be gone soon enough!!! How ANYONE could take this fool seriously is a question for the ages.

donald-trump-president-of-the-virgin-isl

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lets just hope Russia dont respond, this could get out of hand very fast....

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On 4/12/2018 at 3:53 PM, jb™ said:

SOOOOOO DONNIE, What about those NEW, SMART BOMBS you were tweeting about?

You colossal PUTZ!! You cannot be gone soon enough!!! How ANYONE could take this fool seriously is a question for the ages.

donald-trump-president-of-the-virgin-isl

You were saying?

Looks like you’re the Putz. No surprise.

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2 minutes ago, SaintRay said:

You were saying?

Looks like you’re the Putz. No surprise.

He waits until the wolves are at the door. Talk about the tail wagging the dog!

shaking_head_breaking_bad.gif

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OH BOY!! WE'RE GOING TO WAR!!

You morons must be soooooo ecstatic!giphy.gif

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Well this thread turned weird as shit....

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1 minute ago, I'm Ron Burgundy? said:

Wtf dude?????????? 

NO SHIT!!! WTF IS WRONG WITH YOU STUPID FUCKS?????????????

Dildos......your buddy buttfucking you.......COME THE FUCK ON. 

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1 minute ago, jb™ said:

OH BOY!! WE'RE GOING TO WAR!!

You morons must be soooooo ecstatic!giphy.gif

Epic fool.

I shit smarter turds than you.

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11 minutes ago, SaintRay said:

Epic fool.

I shit smarter turds than you.

I’ve NEVER seen ANYONE admit their shit was smarter than they were. Nice try though, fool. 

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lol Jb your party hasn't been anti-war since 2007. Your party of warhawks condemns Trump when he's not starting WW3 with Russia, then when he does exactly as Obama did and attacks them with hundreds of missiles, your party leaders wanna act like they're Rand Paul all of a sudden and say Trump broke the law. xD You don't have an honest bone in your body. It's so awkward watching you squirm around everyone's posts on these boards all day. 

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1 hour ago, Da Bird is da Word said:

lol Jb your party hasn't been anti-war since 2007. Your party of warhawks condemns Trump when he's not starting WW3 with Russia, then when he does exactly as Obama did and attacks them with hundreds of missiles, your party leaders wanna act like they're Rand Paul all of a sudden and say Trump broke the law. xD You don't have an honest bone in your body. It's so awkward watching you squirm around everyone's posts on these boards all day. 

Whose party put us in war to begin with?

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1 hour ago, Beef, Arthur, & Trump Threesomes said:

Whose party put us in war to begin with?

Your globalists Bush and Clinton put us in that war after demolishing the World Trade Center. The anti-war protesters disappeared when Obama was elected, even though Obama would go on to ramp up war in the Middle East, including an illegal war against the sovereign state of Libya without going through Congress. That resulted in Gadaffi being taken out and Libya being taken over by ISIS. Blacks were put in cages and exhibited like zoo animals by the people we replaced Gadaffi with. 

Someone like Rand Paul criticizing the President for his strikes is understandable. He said that about the strikes last year and he said it every time Obama misused his war powers. That’s a principle Mr Paul actually stands on no matter who is in office. Nancy Pelosi saying Trump acted above the law on the other hand is hilarious and hypocritical because she always supported Obama’s unconstitutional military actions. Democrats have placed themselves in a position to criticize the President no matter what he does and they look ridiculous while doing it. 

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31 minutes ago, Da Bird is da Word said:

Your globalists Bush and Clinton put us in that war after demolishing the World Trade Center. The anti-war protesters disappeared when Obama was elected, even though Obama would go on to ramp up war in the Middle East, including an illegal war against the sovereign state of Libya without going through Congress. That resulted in Gadaffi being taken out and Libya being taken over by ISIS. Blacks were put in cages and exhibited like zoo animals by the people we replaced Gadaffi with. 

Someone like Rand Paul criticizing the President for his strikes is understandable. He said that about the strikes last year and he said it every time Obama misused his war powers. That’s a principle Mr Paul actually stands on no matter who is in office. Nancy Pelosi saying Trump acted above the law on the other hand is hilarious and hypocritical because she always supported Obama’s unconstitutional military actions. Democrats have placed themselves in a position to criticize the President no matter what he does and they look ridiculous while doing it. 

I do admit Obama mishandled Libya, he said so himself. Just as Trump failed this time to seek Congressional approval for those Syrian strikes. Both were wrong, and your boy still is not innocent.

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