WASHINGTON/MOSCOW - President Donald Trump has warned Syria's government that the US is "locked and loaded" to strike again if it carries out chemical attacks.

The warning came after the US, UK and France struck three Syrian sites in response to a suspected deadly chemical attack in the town of Douma a week ago. Syria denies any chemical use and says that attack was fabricated by rebels.

The wave of strikes represents the most significant attack against President Bashar al-Assad's government by Western powers in seven years of Syria's civil war. While Western powers have supported rebels from early on in the war, they have not intervened directly against Syrian government forces.

The US, UK and France circulated a new draft resolution to UN Security Council members, calling for an independent investigation into Syria's alleged use of chemical weapons, AFP news agency reported. Similar previous plans have been vetoed by Russia.

UK Prime Minister Theresa May has blamed Russian obstruction for the need to launch military strikes, saying they left "no practicable alternative".

Inspectors from the independent Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) had already been dispatched to Damascus and they are expected to visit Douma this weekend. But the OPCW will not seek to establish - and publicly announce - who was responsible for the attack, which is what the UK, US and France want to see.

The new, Western-drafted resolution calls for the OPCW to release their report within 30 days.

Syria's Assistant Foreign Minister Ayman Sousan told the BBC his government welcomed the OPCW delegation. "The work of the mission is in the interest of the Syrian state as it will uncover the lies, hypocrisy and the misinformation of the sides which had promoted the alleged use of chemical weapons," he said.

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson told the BBC the strikes in Syria were meant to signal that "enough is enough" and their "primary purpose is to say no to the use of barbaric chemical weapons".

An emergency meeting was held by the UN Security Council on Saturday, leading to some bitter exchanges. Russia sought to secure a collective condemnation of the early morning air strikes. However, out of the 15-member council, only China and Bolivia voted in favour of the Russian resolution.

Russia's UN envoy, Vasily Nebenzia, read out a quote from President Vladimir Putin accusing the US, UK and France of "cynical disdain" in acting without waiting for the OPCW's findings.

Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin warned on Sunday that further Western attacks on Syria would bring chaos to world affairs, while signs emerged that Moscow and Washington want to pull back from the worst crisis in their relations for years.

Putin made his remarks in a telephone conversation with Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani after the United States, France and Britain launched missile strikes on Syria on Saturday over a suspected poison gas attack.

A Kremlin statement said Putin and Rouhani agreed that the Western strikes had damaged the chances of achieving a political resolution in the multi-sided, seven-year conflict that has killed at least half a million people.

“Vladimir Putin, in particular, stressed that if such actions committed in violation of the UN Charter continue, then it will inevitably lead to chaos in international relations,” a Kremlin statement said.

The attacks struck at the heart of Syria’s chemical weapons programme, Washington said, in retaliation for a suspected poison gas attack a week ago. All three participants insisted the strikes were not aimed at toppling President Bashar al-Assad or intervening in the conflict.

The bombings, hailed by President Donald Trump as a success but denounced by Damascus and its allies as an act of aggression, marked the biggest intervention by Western countries against Assad and ally Russia, whose foreign minister Sergei Lavrov called them “unacceptable and lawless”.

Putin’s comments were published shortly after Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov struck a more conciliatory note by saying Moscow would make every effort to improve political relations with the West.

When asked whether Russia was prepared to work with the proposals of Western countries at the United Nations, Ryabkov told TASS news agency: “Now the political situation is extremely tense, the atmosphere is extremely electrified, so I will not make any predictions.

“We will work calmly, methodically and professionally, using all opportunities to remove the situation from its current extremely dangerous political peak.”

Russian Foreign Ministry official Vladimir Ermakov said Washington would want to maintain a dialogue with Moscow about strategic stability after the raids, Russian media reported.

“In the US administration there are specific people who it is possible to talk with,” said Ermakov, head of the ministry’s department for non-proliferation and arms control.

In Damascus, Syria’s deputy foreign minister, Faisal Mekdad, met inspectors from the global chemical weapons watchdog OPCW for about three hours in the presence of Russian officers and a senior Syrian security official.

The inspectors were due to attempt to visit the site of the suspected gas attack in Douma on April 7, which medical relief organizations say killed dozens of people. Moscow condemned the Western states for refusing to wait for OPCW’s findings before attacking.