US President Donald Trump on Tuesday virtually declared war on Russia over Syria on Twitter, warning Moscow that he would use new “smart” missiles if it targeted the US launch sites or American missiles attacking the Russia-backed regime of Bashar al-Assad.
Trump appeared to be taunting Russia with American firepower he believes is superior.
Trump was reacting to a warning from Assad’s main ally 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.
“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 said, referring Moscow’s alliance with Assad.
The “Gas Killing Animal” appeared to be a reference to Assad, whose forces allegedly used chemical weapons against dissident civilian population in Syria.
Half an hour after the first Russia tweet, Trump said the US relationship with Russia “is worse now than it has ever been, and that includes the Cold War.”
“There is no reason for this. Russia needs us to help with their economy, something that would be very easy to do, and we need all nations to work together. Stop the arms race?” he added in a more reasonable tone.
US President Donald Trump warned Russia on 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 Assad.
In response, Russia’s Foreign Ministry said in a Facebook post that “smart missiles should fly towards terrorists, not towards the lawful government”, referring to Syrian rebels and Assad respectively.
Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said any US missile strike could be an attempt to destroy evidence of the reported chemical weapons attack in the Syrian town of Douma, for which Damascus and Moscow have denied any responsibility.
After the attack, the rebel group holed up in Douma – Jaish Al Islam – finally agreed to withdraw from the town. That sealed a major victory for Assad in Syria’s civil war, crushing a protracted rebellion in the eastern Ghouta region near Damascus.
Officials at the White House did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for more details about Trump’s comments on the planned military action. The US Defense Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The World Health Organization said on Wednesday that 43 people had died in Saturday’s attack on Douma from “symptoms consistent with exposure to highly toxic chemicals”, and more than 500 in all had been treated.
Moscow’s threat to down US missiles came from its ambassador to Lebanon, Alexander Zasypkin, who said he was referring to a statement by President Vladimir Putin and the Russian armed forces chief of staff. Zasypkin also said that any hostilities with Washington should be avoided and Moscow was ready for negotiations.— Agencies