21:45 GMT +318 August 2018
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    White House deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders talks to the media during the daily press briefing at the White House in Washington

    White House 'Confident' Syrian President Assad Behind Douma 'Chemical Attack'

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    Tensions Mount as Douma Provocation Triggers Syria Strike Threat (107)
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    White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said on Friday "we have a very high confidence" the Syrian government is responsible for an alleged chemical attack.

    The Trump administration is "confident that Syria had responsibility for the chemical weapons attacks," the White House spokeswoman said, adding that Russia is responsible for preventing chemical attacks from happening. 

    She expressed that she wasn't very interested in the Organization of the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons' fact-finding mission, which starts Saturday, citing her confidence in US intelligence that Assad orchestrated the attack. 

    The administration has not had a clear position on the issue. Speaking before Congress on Thursday, US Defense Secretary James Mattis said "I cannot tell you that we have evidence" that chemical weapons were used in Douma. "We're still assessing the intelligence, ourselves and our allies. We're still working on this," the general noted. 

    Washington vowed to conduct missile strikes against "Animal Assad" after the attack, which the Russian Ministry of Defense maintains was fabricated. "The Russian defense ministry has other evidence proving the United Kingdom's direct involvement in the organization of this provocation in Eastern Ghouta," Igor Konashenkov, the ministry's spokesman, said Friday. 

    "We continue to negotiate with our partners and allies, the president spoke with Macron again earlier today," the White House press secretary added. 

    ​Academics and diplomats remain extremely skeptical of the allegation that Assad used chemical weapons. 

    ​"Anyone with a sense of justice, fairness and objectivity and with half of a brain — which is demanding a lot from people like Mr. Trump — could see that Assad derives no benefit, the jihadis do, and that Trump is allowing himself to have his leash yanked by Islamic jihadis," Peter Ford, Britain's former top diplomat to Syria, told Radio Sputnik's Loud & Clear on Tuesday.

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    Tensions Mount as Douma Provocation Triggers Syria Strike Threat (107)

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