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Tuesday briefing: US and Russia tensions soar over Trump's 'imminent' decision about Syria intervention

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Following a deadly suspected chemical attack carried out by the Assad regime, Trump is seeking support from his western allies to take strong action

Anna Freeman

10 Abril 2018 11:44

Hello, this is Anna cutting through the noise of today's news cycle.

US and Russia clash - The US and Russia are inching closer towards direct combat following comments Donald Trump made over Syria on Monday night, with the president saying a decision was 'imminent' on a response to a chemical weapon attack on Saturday. Moscow warned that any US military action would have ‘grave repercussions’. Trump met US generals in the White House on Monday evening to discuss defence issues, and in particular, Trump said they were likely to decide how to react to the poison gas attack in Douma, a rebel-held suburb of Damascus, reported to have killed more than 40 people and seriously affected hundreds. America and its allies have accused the regime of Bashar al-Assad of carrying out the attack, and Trump himself said Vladimir Putin, by backing Assad, carried at least some responsibility.

‘Growing daily’ - Yulia Skripal, the daughter of the former Russian spy Sergei Skripal, has been released from hospital, reports claim. Her discharge comes just over one month after she and her father were found slumped on a bench in Salisbury, UK after being poisoned with a nerve agent. The incident kicked off a spiral of tit-for-tat actions between Russia - accused of carrying out the attack - and the UK and other western governments. 33-year-old Skripal flew to the UK on 3 March, the day before she and her father are believed to have been poisoned by a novichok nerve agent. She released a statement on Friday to say her strength was ‘growing daily’.

FBI raid irks Trump - Donald Trump proclaimed the FBI was carrying out an ‘attack on our country in a true sense’ after conducting a raid on the office of his longtime personal attorney, Michael Cohen, on Monday. The raid came via request from the special counsel, Robert Mueller, to New York-based federal prosecutors. It was not clear that the raid related to Mueller’s investigation of alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. However, Trump said it was an attack at the hands of ‘the most biased group of people’ with ‘the biggest conflicts of interest I’ve ever seen’. He called it ‘an attack on our country in a true sense. It’s an attack on what we all stand for.’

Pistorius appeal denied - South Africa’s highest court has rejected Oscar Pistorius’s request to appeal against his 13-year jail term for killing his girlfriend in 2013. The former Paralympic athlete had asked the constitutional court to review the jail term, but the court ruling released on Monday said that ‘the application for leave to appeal is dismissed’ as it was not a constitutional matter. Pistorius shot and killed Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine’s Day in 2013 when he fired four times through the locked door of his bedroom toilet ,claiming later that he thought she was an intruder.

Cosby’s high price - Former US national treasure Bill Cosby paid a woman accusing him of sexual assault almost $3.4m (£2.4m) in a civil settlement in 2006. The opening remarks at the actor and comedian's retrial in Pennsylvania on Monday revealed the enormous sum of money. Cosby, now 80, denies drugging and sexually assaulting former basketball player Andrea Constand 14 years ago. Cosby has faced allegations from dozens of other women but has denied them all.

Zuckerberg in damage control - Facebook’s chief executive Mark Zuckerberg visited several top lawmakers in Washington on Monday, reiterating how sorry he was for the social network’s failings before a week of scrutiny for him and his company. Ditching his usual jeans and T-shirt for a dark suit and tie, and accompanied by an entourage of aides, Zuckerberg held several meetings with leaders of the Senate Commerce and Judiciary Committees. He also posted a testimony apologising for Facebook’s role in fake news, data privacy leaks and foreign interference in elections, as his company announced that it would form an independent commission of academic researchers to study social media’s impact on elections.

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