Trump warns missiles 'will be coming' over Syria attack

Nellie Chapman
April 20, 2018

The Syrian government has put its forces on "high alert" amid the looming threat of a U.S. military response following Saturday's suspected chemical weapons attack on a rebel-held town near Damascus. Dalton said she has heard reports that Russians are jamming drone flights by the United States and its allies, and that the Assad regime is moving its personnel and assets around in anticipation of US action.

In a United States military action a year ago in response to a sarin gas attack, the Pentagon said missiles took out almost 20 per cent of the Syrian air force.

"A perfectly executed strike", Mr Trump tweeted after US, French and British warplanes and ships launched more than 100 missiles almost unopposed by Syrian air defences.

Trump tweeted early Wednesday morning that "nice and new and "smart" missiles would soon be launched at Syria, where the government is believed to be behind a chemical attack on Saturday that left 70 dead and more than 500 others injured.

Trump's comments are his first public remarks on the attack, which killed dozens of civilians, since he tweeted about it on Sunday and warned of a "big price to pay" for those responsible.

The strikes appear to signal Trump's willingness to draw the United States more deeply into the Syrian conflict.

But many of Syria's most sensitive military facilities are protected by Russian missile defence systems or are located at bases where Russian, Iranian and Syrian personnel cohabit. Pressed Monday on whether those plans still stand, Trump simply told reporters: "We're gonna make a decision on all of that, in particular Syria, we'll be making that decision very quickly, probably by the end of today".

Those include settling on a target list and crafting an attack to avoid provoking a standoff with Russian Federation - a key ally of the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime.

"We're still assessing the intelligence, ourselves and our allies", Mattis said.

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Turkey and the United States are key North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies, but their relations have been strained over a number of issues including Washington's support for PYD/YPG in Syria, deemed as a terrorist outfit by Ankara.

Firing cruise missiles into Syria might be cathartic, but catharsis is not a serious foreign policy objective.

The Russian military said later it had observed movements of U.S. naval forces in the Gulf. "Having said that, it would be ridiculous for us to fight World War III to take Assad out of power".

Moscow calls the chemical attack allegations a "provocation".

"There is still a residual element of the Syrian program that is out there", Lt Gen McKenzie said, adding, "I'm not going to say they're going to be unable to continue to conduct a chemical attack in the future".

Disputing the Russian military's contention that Syrian air defense units downed 71 allied missiles, Lt Gen McKenzie said no United States or allies missiles were stopped. From Russia's dismemberment of Ukraine, Europe's geographically largest nation, to China's attempt to impose its will in the South China Sea, the most strategically important portion of the world's seas that for seven decades have been kept open and orderly by the U.S. Navy.

A former officer in Syria's chemical program, Adulsalam Abdulrazek, said Saturday the joint US, British, and French strikes hit "parts of but not the heart" of the program.

"Damascus has neither the motive to use chemical weapons nor the chemical weapons themselves", foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said.

"Our relationship with Russian Federation is worse now than it has ever been, and that includes the Cold War", Trump said in a tweet.

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