The US, France and Britain have been consulting about launching a military strike within days, and President Donald Trump tweeted Wednesday that missiles “will be coming”.
“Get ready Russian Federation”, the president said.
“Get ready, Russia, because they will be coming, nice and new and “smart”. Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova posted that “missiles must fly towards terrorists, not a legitimate government that has been fighting global terrorism in its territory for several years”.
“Smart rockets ought to fly toward terrorists and not at a lawful government, which has been fighting for several years with worldwide terrorism on its territory”, Zakharova wrote in Russian on her Facebook page.
In a follow-up tweet, Trump said America’s relationship with Russian Federation “is worse now than it has ever been”.
But many of Syria’s most sensitive military facilities are protected by Russian missile defense systems or are located at bases where Russian, Iranian and Syrian personnel cohabit. Trump tweeted, referring to Moscow’s alliance with Assad.
In a further sign that military action may be imminent, Eurocontrol, the European air-traffic control agency, issued a warning on Wednesday to commercial airliners flying in the eastern Mediterranean.
“I would once again ask you, once again beseech you to refrain from the plans that you are now developing for Syria”, he said.
“The continued use of chemical weapons can not go unchallenged”.
Russia’s ambassador to Lebanon, Alexander Zasypkin, told Hezbollah’s Al-Manar TV station that any missiles fired at Syria would be shot down.
The strategic aim, the former official said, would be to raise the cost to Syrian President Bashar Assad for using weapons prohibited by global treaty and to raise doubts in the minds of the military officers the next time he orders a similar attack.
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, however, indicated that evidence of what happened in Saturday’s suspected attack near Damascus is still being studied.
It came nearly exactly a year after a chemical attack in the northern Syrian town of Khan Sheikhoun killed dozens of people.
The U.S. president is skipping a major worldwide summit in South America to weigh his options, and said on Monday that he would announce his decision shortly. “Today for the sixth time Russian Federation failed the Syrian people and vetoed a mechanism that would have held those who use chemical weapons against them accountable”.
“We are not surprised by such a reckless escalation from a regime like the United States which has fostered and continues to foster terrorism in Syria”, a foreign ministry official said, according to state news agency SANA.
The alleged move signals Britain’s eagerness to join the United States in retaliation strikes against the Syrian military.
“I would be happy for Parliament to be recalled but the PM does have the option to go ahead without this”, Dr Sarah Wollaston told HuffPost.
Douma, the last rebel stronghold outside of the capital Damascus, was hit by a chemical weapon attack.
Even as the Syria discussions are proceeding at the White House, Trump has remained preoccupied with special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe.
The perpetrators of Monday’s attack on the airbase are also unknown, but the Russian Defense Ministry and Syria have accused Israel of carrying out the bombings.