U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a joint news conference with Latvia's President, Estonia's President and Lithuania's President at the White House, April 3, 2018..
(photo credit: CARLOS BARRIA / REUTERS)
WASHINGTON — The United States will take military action against Syrian President Bashar Assad over his use of chemical weapons on civilians despite a warning from Moscow that it will repel and retaliate against the attack, President Donald Trump said on Wednesday.
Writing on Twitter, Trump acknowledged the Russian threat to shoot down US missiles and to target their launching pads— likely US warships— issued by Moscow’s envoy to Lebanon earlier in the day.
“Russia vows to shoot down any and all missiles fired at Syria,” Trump said. “Get ready Russia, because they will be coming, nice and new and ‘smart!’”
“You shouldn’t be partners with a Gas Killing Animal who kills his people and enjoys it!” he continued.
European aviation authorities warned airlines this morning to avoid the airspace around Syria for the next 72 hours, suggesting a strike is imminent. Meanwhile, US media reported that Trump ordered another US warship to the Syrian coast in preparation for the assault.
European air traffic warned over Syria strikes, April 11, 2018 (Reuters)
Trump’s national security staff is encouraging him to strike Assad harder than he did one year ago, when he ordered the Pentagon to unleash a fusillade of 59 Tomahawk missiles on Al Sharyat airfield, an Assad regime military base that had launched a chemical weapons attack on nearby Khan Sheikhoun.
This time, the US, France and Britain believe Assad’s forces unleashed chemical weapons on rebel-held Douma, affecting over 500 and killing dozens, with Russian and Iranian involvement or consent. Russia and Iran deny the claims.
France and the UK are consulting with the Trump administration on a possible joint military response. Israel, Saudi Arabia and Qatar have expressed support for such a move.