Trump warns Russia of Syria military action
US President Donald Trump warned Russia Wednesday of imminent military action in Syria over a suspected poison gas attack, declaring that missiles “will be coming” and lambasting Moscow for standing by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Trump was reacting to a warning from Russia on Tuesday that any US missiles fired at Syria over the deadly assault on a rebel enclave would be shot down and the launch sites targeted.
His comments raised fears of direct conflict over Syria for the first time between the two world powers backing opposing sides in the country’s protracted civil war, which has aggravated instability across the Middle East.
“Russia vows to shoot down any and all missiles fired at Syria. Get ready Russia, because they will be coming, nice and new and ‘smart!’” Trump wrote in a post on Twitter.
“You shouldn’t be partners with a Gas Killing Animal who kills his people and enjoys it!” Trump tweeted, referring to Moscow’s alliance with Assad.
In response, Russia’s Foreign Ministry said in a Facebook post that “smart missiles should fly towards terrorists, not towards the lawful government.”
Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said any US missile salvo could be an attempt to destroy evidence of the reported gas attack in the Syrian town of Douma, for which Damascus and Moscow have denied any responsibility.
After Trump’s tweet, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that pro-government forces were emptying main airports and military air bases.
The Syrian foreign ministry accused the US, which has supported some rebel groups in Syria’s conflict, of using “fabrications and lies” as an excuse to hit its territory.
“We are not surprised by such a thoughtless escalation by a regime like the United States regime, which sponsored terrorism in Syria and still does,” the state news agency SANA cited an official source in the ministry as saying.
After the Douma attack, the insurgent group dug in there, Jaish al-Islam, finally agreed to withdraw.
That clinched a huge victory for Assad, crushing a long rebellion in the eastern Ghouta region near the capital Damascus.
Oil prices jumped to their highest level in more than three years on Wednesday after Trump’s missile warning.