this is bbc news. i'm ben bland. our top stories: the united states says it has clear proof the syrian government was to blame for last week's gas attack. as the us, france and britain discuss a military response, the un boss warns that the cold war is "back with a vengeance". the situation in the middle east is in chaos. to such an extent it has become a threat to international peace and security. with the former head of the fbi about to publish his memoirs, president trump calls him "an untruthful slime ball". and after the killing of two journalists and their driver, ecuador‘s president orders military operations against former farc rebels. hello and welcome to bbc world news.
the un secretary general has warned that the cold war is "back with a vengeance" and he gave a dire warning about military escalation in syria. antonio guterres‘ comments were made at a heated session of the un security council in new york as relations between the west and russia plummeted further. moscow has again defended the assad government, saying an alleged attack in eastern ghouta did not involve chemical weapons. it accused foreign powers of staging the attack. the white house says it's now very confident syria carried out last weekend's attack and 12 american warships have been spotted moving to the middle east. our diplomatic correspondent james robbins reports. douma is firmly back under syrian government control. this is the ruined town where, it is alleged, president assad's forces used chemical weapons a week ago. rebel forces have now fled or been killed. russian troops are in douma, too,
claiming they are a part of victory and insisting they found no evidence of any poison attacks, no victims, either. western powers suspect has been ample time to destroy evidence as the west finalises plans for possible punitive strikes. the united nations security council, the cockpit were opposing powers fight with words, today the secretary general warned that present military tensions between the west and russia could spiral out of control. the cold war is back with a vengeance but with a difference natarsha the mechanism and safeguards to manage the risks of escalation that existed in the past no longer seem to be present. the united states says it has not yet decided on military action, but their estimates point to president assad using chemical weapons in this war at least 50 times. all nations and all people will be harmed if we allow assad to normalise the use
of chemical weapons. syria's ambassador painted a different picture, of western powers fabricating a case to justify force and impose regime change. translation: those three countries - the us, britain and france — if they think they can attack us, attack our sovereignty, we would have no choice but to exercise our rights under the un charter to defend ourselves. the west rejects that, so what could its military response involve 7 well, the americans have the uss donald cook in the mediterranean, which could hit syrian targets with cruise missiles. they could be supported by british tornados based in cyprus. then the french have their frigate, the aquitaine, as well as rafale fighter jets based in jordan. us and uk submarines are in the region, too, armed with cruise missiles. no—one is suggesting there has to be confrontation with the russians, but they do already have anti—missile defence systems at two
airbases in syria, with a range capable of reaching cyprus. the russians also have an unknown number of fighter jets in the region. russia is now accusing british spies all special forces of fabricating the entire chemical weapons attack. translation: in fact, we have irrefutable data that this was another staged event which involved special services of one of the country is trying very hard to be at the forefront of the anti— russian campaign. whatever precisely happened in douma, the russian defence ministry is now accusing britain directly of organising it. britain calls that go up reform the grotesque blatant lie. —— britain calls that a grotesque blatant lie. the war of words is louder than ever. any military steps are still unknown. james robbins, bbc news. let's get the perspective now from beirut. our chief international correspondent lyse doucet
is there and has been following developments. beyond the door whether marini standing guard you go a few steps in to reach the situation room where donald trump in his most senior national security advisers will cover if there is to be ignored to launch an attack. donald trump was due to be in peru this weekend and has cancelled out, the defence secretary was due on that was cross, he is in washington, nikki haley is on her way from new york now to be in washington. one other significant thing we heard in the report from james robbins, we have now had the state department and white house at the briefing a short time ago saying in no uncertain terms they have proof that syria was behind the attack and russia did nothing to stop it. that is a big change from one day ago. this attack may have happened sooner but for reservations from the pentagon who fear a wider
escalation. i suppose one rate that could still happen is if the chemical weapons inspectors are in place, i don't think that bombing would start then. one other thing, donald trump doesn't want to be seen as the man, like the grand old duke of york who munched his troops up the hill and marched them down again, or worse still, the hill and marched them down again, orworse still, be the hill and marched them down again, or worse still, be compared to barack obama who differed and then didn't act. the phrase war of words is something we hear very often to describe relations between russia and the west but if you listen to the words russia has been using today, you can see how wide the gulf is now between moscow and the gulf is now between moscow and the west. the words of russia's you ambassador today claiming that america ‘s irresponsible behaviour was unworthy of a permanent member of the security council and the words of the russian defence ministry claiming that the alleged chemical weapons in syria was a provocation by britain. what if words are replaced by weapons? if
america and her allies launch a strike on syria ? america and her allies launch a strike on syria? how will russia respond? oscar strike on syria? how will russia respond ? oscar has strike on syria? how will russia respond? oscar has already made it clear that if the lives of russian service men in syria are put in danger, a russian military will target incoming missiles and launch sites. steve rosenberg in moscow and before that, jon sopel in washington. dr kamran bokhari is a senior fellow with the center for global policy in washington. i asked him what the white house is weighing up when considering a response to the alleged chemical attack in douma. two broad situations that the trump administration is closely looking at in preparation for the air strikes. number one is, what will be russia's response? how will they deal with russia? number two, to finally calibrate between a symbolic air strike, like the one they did last april and avoiding going too far. those are the two issues which are centre stage in the thinking of the trump administration as they prepare
to these air strikes. i just want to pick up on something interesting. the way you just spoke about it, in your mind, it seems as though it is a given that some form of air strike will happen. what are you basing that on? well, i mean, the administration has made no secret of its intentions to do that. it is just weighing up its various options in terms of the actual military operation of what the president wants to do, which is to have a response to the use of chemical weapons by the syrian regime. and, of course, how will it impact the broader balance of power in the region? there are the turks to consider and the president has spoken to his turkish counterpart. the turkish president has in turn spoken to president vladimir putin. there are the iranians on the ground, there
is saudi arabia, which wants to be part of these air strikes. there are many actors. and of course there is the iran versus israel contestation within syria. there are lots of moving parts which the administration needs to considering how it responds to this situation. dr cameron bokhari there. they've publicly clashed before but now the war of words between president trump and former fbi directorjames comey is reaching new levels. mr comey‘s book is being released next week and it's full of scathing assessments of the president, as jane o'brien reports. president trump famously does not read books, so his furious twitter outburst this morning was more likely prompted by seeing his former fbi director on tv discussing an infamous dossier. the allegation was that he had been involved in prostitutes in a hotel in moscow in 2013, and that the russians had filmed the episode, and he interrupted very defensively, and started talking about, do i look like
a guy who needs hookers? mr comey never got on with the president who he describes in his book as "unethical and untethered to the truth". mr trump is not holding back either, tweeting: but firing mr comey in the middle of an fbi investigation into russian interference in the 2016 election fuelled allegations that the president was attempting to obstruct justice. it also prompted the appointment of the special counsel robert mueller, whose investigation is gathering momentum. mr comey‘s book does not reportedly reveal much about that but it does give a scathing account of a president he clearly despises, prompting a response from the white house. the american people see through the blatant lies
of a self—admitted leaker. this is not the first time mr comey, dubbed "a showboat" by the president, was the centre of attention. he appeared before congress in a televised hearing that attract —— that attracted nearly 20 million viewers. his book to be released on tuesday is already a bestseller. earlier, i spoke to the political commentator eric ham about tensions between president trump and james comey, and why things had become so strained. we have seen this president actually go through so many fit centre bounce with so many different people and so i think this is just one more with so many different people and so i think this isjust one more battle ina very large, i think this isjust one more battle in a very large, long—running war since the president took the oath of office more than one year ago. i think this isjust office more than one year ago. i think this is just going to be a battle that will continue to take
place. i think if we begin to see some type of pushback or any type of catastrophic attacks to the president, i think we will see it as we get closer and closer to the mid—term selections but make no mistake about it, robert miller, a special counter on the russian peru, the conversations with james comey —— mueller. i do believe he is using those conversations and will use those conversations and will use those conversations and will use those conversations if and when he gets a face—to—face with the president. how does this, this book and the accusations, the allegations that james comey makes, play into the bigger picture of the robert mueller investigation, if at all? again, what we are seeing from the mueller proved, and we don't know much because mueller has been tightlipped, but we do know that he is on track looking at not only pollution but obstruction of justice. so i think there are many
layers, many facets, but can actually get mueller to the potential conclusion and one of course is the firing of james comey because of his continued investigation into the ongoing russia probe into the role that russia probe into the role that russia played in the 2016 presidential election. eric ham speaking to me earlier. let's take a look at some of the other stories making the news. the youngest daughter of the chairman of korean air has apologised after reports that she threw a bottle of water at the head of the airline's advertising agency. the family previously made the headlines when her sister threw a tantrum over the manner in which she was served nuts while onboard one of the compa ny‘s jets. more than 170 countries have reached a deal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions produced by international shipping. it's the first time the industry has signed up to a target. the agreement demands at least a 50% cut in emissions and must be reached by 2050. stay with us on bbc news.
still to come: another reason to lose weight — new research shows one in eight britons could be suffering from fatty liver disease. pol pot, one of the century's greatest mass murderers, is reported to have died of natural causes. he and the khmer rouge movement he led were responsible for the deaths of an estimated 1.7 million cambodians. there have been violent protests in indonesia, where playboy has gone on sale for the first time. traditionalist muslim leaders have expressed disgust, the magazine's offices have been attacked, and it is said that staff have gone into hiding. it was clear that paula's only contest was with the clock. and, as for her sporting legacy, paula radcliffe's competitors will be chasing her new world best time for years to come. quite quietly, but quicker
and quicker, she is seenjust to slide away under the surface and disappear. this is bbc news. the latest headlines: the united states says it has proof that the syrian government carried out a chemical attack last week in the town of douma, as western countries consider a military response. international chemical weapons inspectors are due in syria to begin
investigating the incident. we get a perspective from beirut. this was a region that was ready tent this was a region that was ready te nt eve n this was a region that was ready tent even before this latest crisis. there is nervousness in lebanon on. it is only a few hours drive to damascus where i stand. there is strong sense that this time, if and when the strikes come, they will be targeting more than one area, one set of assets, there will be many targets. an exceptionally tangled battlefield like syria that carries risks for all of the allies of president assad, including the hezbollah fighters and also for iran. this week we are getting reports that iraq has been moving its senior revolutionary guard officers and other advisors out of syria and into iraq and that lebanese fighters are moving to safer locations preparing for the
strikes and not wanting, like we saw recently, when there were other strikes in syria by israel, that iranians were also killed in the targeting. the president of ecuador has confirmed that two ecuadorian journalists and their driver have been killed by a insurgent group in colombia. president lenin moreno had given the group 12 hours to offer proof of life before security forces would take action. the three employees of ecuador‘s el comercio newspaper were kidnapped along the country's conflictive border with colombia. they had reportedly been investigating a rise in drug—fuelled violence along ecuador‘s northern border. the bbc‘s south america correspondent, katy watson is in lima, in neighbouring peru. the president gave 12 hours to give proof of life. he flew back to ecuador last night cutting short his stay in lima. is there for the
summit of the americas. he gave an emotional speech, at some point thomas crying about the fact that the country was in mourning and also saying there was a need for uniting in peace —— at some point almost crying. the board a long ecuador and colombia is a difficult one ever since the peace deal in 2016 between the fast gorillas in the governed. they had been some dissident groups who did not take part in that. that area of drug trafficking is a sensitive part of the region. you mentioned about the deal between the colombian government and the rebels. there was much made of that peace deal battlers made after several decades. if people are still being kidnapped and murdered, has it actually made any difference? well, it has made a difference in the fact that it has ended 50 years of conflict. the majority of farc rebels have disarmed. it is only a very small minority who decided not to go along
with the agreement. so it is momentous in that respect, and that the farc rebels have begun to be reintegrated in terms of politics. it doesn't stop the problem. if there is a drug trafficking problem there is a problem of violence and criminal gangs. that is something colombia is still battling. a brief question on the summit of americas. president trump it was to be his first official visit to latin america, and that has been cancelled because of his focus on the response to the syrian situation. what is being made president trump is my decision not to attend?” being made president trump is my decision not to attend? i think it has been met with both relief and criticism. it was set to be a very awkward meeting between leaders of the region he has criticised, new mexico for immigration, colombia and mexico for immigration, colombia and mexico the drugs, trade battles with nascar, it was set to be a difficult
meeting, perhaps. there is a feeling that he did not need to call it off —— nafta. it shows the brad tiesi as was the region. there is a feeling that maybe they can get on without the talking, without the so—called noise and headlines that come out when donald trump travels. it has been met with mixed feelings in lima. the uk government's national security advisor says moscow had been spying on sergei skripal and his daughter yulia, for at least five years before they were poisoned in salisbury last month. in a letter to nato, sir mark sedwill also says russian military intelligence trained "special units" how to use nerve agents and apply them to door handles. the police have said a nerve agent was found on sergei skripal‘s front door. this report from our security correspondent, gordon corera. nearly six weeks on, police cordons are still in place in salisbury, as the investigation continues. today, thought, the government provided new details to press its case that russia was responsible.
we already knew that the highest concentration of the nerve agent was found on the front door handle of sergei skripal‘s home, but today, in a letter to nato allies, britain's national security adviser, mark sedwill, said that in the 2000s russia began a programme to train special units, and this programme subsequently included investigation of ways of delivering nerve agents, including by application to door handles. mr sedwill also claimed that yulia skripal had her e—mail hacked by russian military intelligence, the gru, at least as far back as 2013. her father was seen by the gru as a traitor because he had spied for britain. some of these new details come from secret intelligence, collected in part by mi6. there had been a debate amongst officials about how much could be released, but the view at the highest levels
was that it is important to provide as much as possible to try and convince doubters at home and abroad. this afternoon, russia's ambassador in london was dismissive of the investigation. the investigation is conducted in the most non—transparent way. the british government refuse to co—operate at all with the russian authorities. today's letter provides no smoking gun, but officials will hope that it supports the case that russia had the means and the motive, even if it does not convince all of the doubters. gordon corera, bbc news. people who are overweight in middle age run a high risk of suffering from a potentially serious form of liver disease, according to a new study here in the uk. symptoms of fatty liver disease often don't emerge until permanent damage has been done. it can lead to cirrhosis, liver failure, and death. our medical correspondent
fergus walsh has been talking to one woman who changed her lifestyle to beat the disease. this was me in 2011. frances carroll used to weigh 18 stone. then she was told she had fatty liver disease. and they are size? 22. and left unchecked, it could eventually have killed her. i was shocked. i had no idea. i really didn't have any symptoms that i knew about that, you know, i had a fatty liver. it was one of the things that really helped to motivate me, to make sure that i changed my health, really. she lost seven stone through a combination of a healthy diet and exercise, and is now a fitness instructor. but what about her liver? using specially developed software, this mri scan at southampton general
will tell doctors if her fatty liver disease is gone. so, frances, i'm really pleased to say that this is your liver here on the right... it's good news. the nice, green, non—inflamed, happy liver. now, look at an inflamed, fatty liver in red. over time, this can lead to scarring and liver failure. being overweight increases the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer, but people usually don't consider their liver. there is a growing epidemic of fatty liver disease, that's especially worrying as symptoms often don't emerge until permanent damage has been done. and one in eight adults may have the condition, according to a new study. it is very, very alarming. many of those people will go on to develop cirrhosis. their livers will fail, they'll need liver transplants. many of them will die. it is very much a wake—up call. the new enhanced mri scan makes it easierfor doctors
to diagnose the problem. it gives us an overview, a map of the entire liver, as opposed to a needle core biopsy, which is invasive and a rather unpleasant procedure, and allows us to follow patients over time and see if they improve. 90% of liver disease is reversible if, like frances, people change their lifestyle. fergus walsh, bbc news. don't forget you can get in touch with me and some of the team on twitter — i'm @benmbland. if you want to discuss some of the stories search for our facebook page to discuss the stories that. well, we've got some big changes
on the way on the weather front. in the short term it's still cloudy and you might need the brolly across the course of the weekend. let's summarise the weekend. warming up, particularly in the south, plenty of bright weather around this weekend, at times we will need our umbrellas. after the weekend, that is when we see the really big change. just a quick outlook now for the next few days. a kink in the jet stream here diving south and then back north again on this side of the atlantic means all that warm air in the southern climes here, from spain and portugal and france, will be pushed in our direction and we will start to see those temperatures climbing, probably peaking in the middle of the week as they reach around 2a degrees across the southern half of the uk, into the low 20s further north. but that's next week. in the short term, saturday morning for many of us will start fairly cloudy. brighter weather developing later on. here are the early hours of saturday, then. quite a lot of cloud across the uk.
mist and fog patches around as well. it's dry. temperatures around six degrees in edinburgh. seven degrees also on the south coast. whether you're in the north or south it will not make an awful lot of difference. as we go through saturday morning lots of that cloud will be breaking up. lots of bright if not sunny weather will develop. there is a chance of one or two showers drifting out of france and affecting south—eastern areas, but you're unlikely to catch them. temperatures comfortably getting up to about 18 degrees in the south—east. a big difference on the north sea coast. it has been cold and cloudy over the last few days. those temperatures will be rising. how about the grand national? temperatures getting to about 1k at aintree, with partly cloudy skies. as we head into the second half of the weekend, that's when the change comes in. low pressure will briefly upset the weather across western areas of the uk. stronger winds here.
a little bit of rain. certainly cloud at the very least. that's that rain on sunday morning affecting south—western parts of england, into wales. a few showers further east and in central parts of the country as well. probably the best of the weather in the north and the north—east of scotland. relatively warm winds coming in, maybe a bit of a dip from saturday, but not an awful lot. 15—16 celsius. as we head into next week, those temperatures keep climbing. 20 degrees in edinburgh, and in london, quite possibly 2a celsius. have a great weekend. this is bbc news. the headlines: the united states says it has proof that the syrian government was behind last week's suspected chemical attack in eastern ghouta and russia did nothing to stop it. russia has accused britain of staging the attack as a provocation — a claim that has been strongly denied by the government in london.
the un secretary general has warned that increasing tension over syria threatens to lead the world to a full—blown military confrontation. addressing the security council in new york, he said the cold war was "back with a vengeance" and there was a risk of events spiralling out of control. president trump has launched a ferocious tirade against the man he sacked as director of the fbi, describing him as "an untruthful slime ball". the outburst on twitter came hours after publication of the first extracts ofjames comey‘s memoirs, in which he compares mr trump to a mafia boss. now on bbc news, it's time for click.