Update: After a brief meeting, the UK cabinet has backed military action against the Syrian government. They're attacking to alleviate "humanitarian distress" and to further deter the use of chemical weapons by Assad, according to a statement.
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Shortly after CNBC reported that the US is planning to strike 8 targets in Syria, including two airfields, a research center and a chemical weapons facility, after US officials told a reporter they were "fairly confident" the Syrian regime had been behind a gas attack in a rebel-held suburb of Damascus, Sky News reported - citing Russian officials - that the Russian military would protect its people on the ground in Syria if missile strikes are launched by the US and its allies.
Maria Zakharova, spokeswoman for the Russian foreign ministry, said the current situation is a "test for each and every country in the world to protect its people on the ground."
"Russia should protect its people on the ground of course...we came to Syria at the invitation of the people," Zakharova told Sky News Presenter Dermot Murnaghan in Moscow.
Earlier in the day, Secretary of State nominee Mike Pompeo intimated during his confirmation that hundreds of Russian mercenaries had been killed by airstrikes during a clash on Feb. 7. Media reports said the US would give Russia fair warning of the sites it plans to attack.
Vitaly Churkin, Russia's ambassador at the United Nations, said he unfortunately "cannot exclude any possibilities" when asked about the danger of war between the US and Russia.