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Merkel rules out German participation in potential military strike against Syria

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German Chancellor and Christian Democratic Union (CDU) leader Angela Merkel on Thursday ruled out Germany joining a potential US-led military strike against Syria.

"Germany will not participate in a potential -- and I must emphasize that no decision has been made so far -- military intervention," Merkel told the press.

Merkel also stressed, however, that the use of chemical weapons was always "unacceptable".

Berlin said it would consequently direct its energy towards non-violent means of preventing the use of further chemical weapons in Syria, for example by supporting the activities of the United Nations Security Council and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).

US President Donald Trump had earlier threatened military action against the Syrian government which he blamed for the alleged chemical attack.

Activists, local rescuers, and rebels in Syria claim that Syrian government forces used chlorine gas on Saturday in an attack in Douma, a rebel-held area near capital Damascus.

The Syrian Foreign Ministry has denied the accusation, calling rebels' claims "premeditated pretexts."

German media reported on Thursday that US and Russian security officials were holding urgent high-level talks to prevent a direct confrontation of the two countries in Syria.

Norbert Roettgen, the CDU/CSU parliamentary foreign policy spokesperson, subsequently cautioned Washington against an excessively hasty reaction on Thursday.

He expressed the view that neither the United States nor Russia had any interest in becoming embroiled in a military conflict against each other in Syria. Nevertheless, the situation remained "dangerous" due to its complex nature and the large number of actors involved.

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