President Donald Trump has told Russia and Syria to “get ready” for a missile attack on the Assad regime, saying the bombs will be “nice and new and smart”.
Mr Trump tweeted an extraordinary response to Russia’s claim that it would shoot down any missiles fired at Syria following the chemical weapons attack on Douma.
The US President added: “You shouldn’t be partners with a Gas Killing Animal who kills his people and enjoys it!”
Earlier, Alexander Zasypkin, the Russian envoy to Beirut, said: “If there is an American strike, then we… will shoot down the missiles and target the positions from where they were launched.
“In the past few days, we have seen an escalation towards a significant crisis.”
Mr Zasypkin’s comments, made in an interview with a Hizbollah-affiliated television channel, are the sternest Russian warning yet against American strikes. They go beyond previous threats that Russian troops would use their missile defence systems to shield the Assad regime.
The Russian ambassador spoke as Eurocontrol, the pan-European air traffic control agency, warned civilian airliners to be cautious above the eastern Mediterranean because of the possibility of strikes in the next 72 hours.
The agency warned that both missiles launched from aircraft or from naval forces might be launched before the end of the week.
“Due to the possible launch of air strikes into Syria with air-to-ground and/or cruise missiles within the next 72 hours, and the possibility of intermittent disruption of radio navigation equipment, due consideration needs to be taken when planning flight operations in the Eastern Mediterranean,” the agency said in a statement.
The US has two Navy destroyers capable of firing a barrage of cruise missiles in the eastern Mediterranean already. An American naval strike group, led by the aircraft carrier USS Harry S Truman, is moving towards the area.
The Syrian regime has so far prevented UN agencies from visiting the site of the alleged attack, although Russian military inspectors have been allowed access.
Meanwhile, Theresa May has given her strongest signal yet that Britain would support President Donald Trump in military action against the Syrian regime as the two leaders resolved “not to allow the use of chemical weapons to continue”.
A Trump official upped the diplomatic tension by describing the chemical attack on Douma, Syria, as “genocide” and saying a military response was “appropriate”.
Mr Macron said the three countries would decide “within days” how to respond and discussed the possibility of hitting Syria’s “chemical capacities”. Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, said: “All options are on the table.”
It came as Russia used its veto power at the UN Security Council on Tuesday evening against a US resolution to create new expert body to determine responsibility for Syria chemical weapons attacks, a move expected to increase the likelihood of US military intervention.
Russia urged the US to avoid taking military action, warning Washington that it will “bear responsibility” for any “illegal military adventure” it carries out.
Russian UN Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said Washington’s decision to put forward its resolution could be a prelude to a Western strike on Syria.
“I would once again ask you, once again beseech you, to refrain from the plans that you’re currently developing for Syria,” he said after the council failed to approve a third draft resolution on chemical weapons attacks in Syria.
He added: “If you took the decision to carry out an illegal military adventure, and we do hope that you will come to your senses, well then you will have to bear responsibility for it.”
Full article: ‘Get ready Russia’ – Donald Trump tells Putin and Assad to expect ‘nice and new and smart’ missiles (The Guardian)