Newspaper headlines: May 'gets backing' for Syria action

RAF Tornado GR4 landing at RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus Image copyright PA
Image caption A decision has yet to be made as to whether British forces will join any attacks against Syria

The prospect of military action in Syria again receives widespread coverage and provides the lead for several of Friday's papers.

According to the Times, the largest US air and naval strike force since the Iraq war is heading towards the country, and US-led air strikes are expected within the next three days.

The paper says the fallout from the suspected chemical attack has brought the most dangerous stand-off between Russia and the West of modern times.

The Guardian, the Daily Mail and the i focus on Theresa May's cabinet backing action, with the Mail's headline reading: "Missiles at the ready."

The Sun is one of several papers to report that the White House has provisionally selected eight targets - including two airfields, a research centre and a chemical weapons facility.

According to the Daily Telegraph, Moscow expects allied forces to reveal their location in advance, in order to avoid bloodshed and restrict damage to legitimate military assets.

The Washington Post says analysts in Russia believe the focus is now on ways to ensure that any strikes are limited so that they don't kill Russians - allowing Moscow to refrain from carrying out its threats to retaliate.

Rising costs for councils

The Financial Times leads on the results of its own study suggesting that nearly half of councils in England have run down their financial reserves in the past two years.

It says many are struggling to cope with "a pincer movement" of cuts to central government funding and rising social care costs.

According to the paper, the remaining authorities increased their reserves, but these were mostly smaller district councils that do not manage social care.

Image copyright EPA
Image caption Sir Cliff Richard suing the BBC has made a number of Friday's papers as the court case begins

The start of legal action by Sir Cliff Richard against the BBC for the reporting of a police search at his flat in Berkshire four years ago is widely reported.

It makes the lead for the Daily Mirror and the Sun, with the latter claiming the case could cost the corporation up to £4m.

Runners and riders

The Daily Telegraph says Saturday's Grand National could be like no other seen in the past three decades.

For the first time since 1988, three female jockeys will be among the 40 riders - and for the first time ever, all three will be on good horses.

It asks, could Katie Walsh, Rachael Blackmore or Bryony Frost become the first female jockey to take home the more than £550,000 prize for first place?

Village 'on the up'

And it seems it is not just the property prices that are rising in the mid-Devon village of Willand - but the buildings too.

The Daily Mail reports that geologists have discovered the village is rising by 2cm a year - but can't explain why.

According to the Sun, experts say the village is like a dome, rising faster in the middle than the sides.

One expert tells the Daily Telegraph this phenomenon is generally seen in areas where there have been mining works and the pumps have been switched off, allowing the water to gradually seep back into the ground.

But, he adds, Willand is in the middle of nowhere and they have no idea what's going on.

It is, the Sun says, a village on the up.