By Nathan Morley
The Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says Moscow has proof that an alleged recent chemical attack in Syria was staged by foreign intelligence services.
Speaking at a news conference, Mr Lavrov did not mince his words as he spoke of possessing “irrefutable evidence that it was another staging.”
He added: “The special services of a state which is in the forefront of the Russophobic campaign had a hand in the staging.”
He did not name which state or states he was referring to.
On Thursday, US President Donald Trump met his National Security Council to discuss a response to the alleged chemical weapons attack blamed on Syrian government forces.
"We are continuing to assess intelligence and are engaged in conversations with our partners and allies,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said.
Moscow has called on all parties involved in Syria to step back from actions which could further destabilize the region.
Even though any military campaign could escalate into a larger conflict, western states are thought to be preparing for missile strikes in response to the alleged attack with British Royal Navy submarines reportedly in the Mediterranean, along with ships from the US fleet.
Military build-up near Cyprus
At least eight Tornado fighter jets and six Typhoons are based at the British military station in Akrotiri in western Cyprus. The British bases are not part of the Republic of Cyprus, but are small enclaves retained as sovereign areas after the island gained its independence.
For its part, the government in Nicosia has emphasized that it has no connection with possible military operations against Syria.
"Cyprus has no participation at all, and there has been no consultation whatsoever in relation to the planning of other countries," government spokesman Prodromos Prodromou confirmed.