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Israel's Prime Minister has warned that if Syria's President Assad does launch any kind of retaliatory attack then Israel will, in his words, respond forcefully.
Any Israeli attack on Syria under those circumstances will be be large scale, and Asad's allies in Lebanon and Iran will feel bound to respond. So this is one way in which a punishment action by the Western powers could lead very quickly to a regional conflict.
The Syrian ambassador to the United Nations claimed that the chemical attacks in Damascus were carried out by terrorist groups, and not by Bashar Assad's regime.
Bashar Jaafari told a news conference at the UN in New York that the country's own soldiers had been infected by inhaling the poisonous gas, believed to be sarin.
He said he had sent a letter of request from the Syrian government to the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to investigate the "heinous attacks".
The team of United Nations chemical weapons experts returned to their hotel in central Damascus after inspecting the scenes of an apparent poison gas attack on several suburbs outside the Syrian capital last week.
Nato Secretary general Anders Fogh Rasmussen warned that the use of chemical weapons in Syria was "unacceptable and cannot go unanswered".
He said: "Information available from a wide variety of sources points to the Syrian regime as responsible for the use of chemical weapons in these attacks. This is a clear breach of longstanding international norms and practice."
Syria's deputy foreign minister has accused Britain, France and the United States of helping "terrorists" use chemical weapons in Syria's conflict, the Reuters news agency has reported.
Security forces in Iraq have been put on high alert in case there is an international military strike on Syria, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki has said.
UN weapons inspectors in Syria have met people wounded in last week's attack as they look for evidence that chemicals were used by the Assad regime.
It is understood Russia will tell the UN Security Council it must wait for inspectors to report on an alleged chemical weapons attack in Syria before considering a response.
Deputy Foreign Minister Vladimir Titov, quoted by the Interfax news agency, outlined the stance before today's meeting to consider Britain's draft resolution.
The UK motion authorises "necessary measures to protect Syrian civilians", understood to be targeted military strikes on the Assad regime.
The French parliament will hold an extraordinary session in a week's time to discuss the situation in Syria.
"The president has taken the decision to summon parliament on Wednesday to assess the situation in Syria," government spokeswoman Najat Vallaud-Belkacem said after a cabinet meeting.
Prime Minister David Cameron has already recalled MPs for a parliamentary debate tomorrow on Syria.
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A textile factory in Damascus has started producing gas masks in case of a repeat of a suspected chemical attack on the area.