US and allies warn Syria of more missile strikes if chemical attacks used again

Western allies warned Syria on Saturday that they could launch further attacks if chemical weapons are used again, even as Syria’s powerful backer Russia denounced the missile strikes but gave no signs of possible retaliation.

The flurry of statements after Friday’s coordinated strike of U.S. cruise missiles — backed by launched from French and British forces — suggested a tense holding pattern.

The United States and its allies served notice to Bashar al-Assad’s regime that there was Western resolve to halt any further chemical attacks against civilians. Russia, meanwhile, said it did not mobilize its air defenses in Syria, but underscored the importance of its military foothold in Syria and its role as Assad’s main protector.

For the moment, there were no signs that the worse fears would take shape: that the U.S.-led attack could put the United States and Russia in direct conflict.

Still, the extent of the blow to Assad’s regime remained unclear.

Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the U.S., French and British forces struck three sites: a scientific research center near Damascus, a suspected chemical weapons storage facility near Homs and a storage facility and command post also near Homs.

But plans for the Western attack has been building for nearly a week, since a suspected chemical attack last Saturday on a

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