New York, April 11 (IANS) US President Donald Trump on Wednesday warned Syria and Russia that he was readying missile strikes on the Middle Eastern nation in retaliation for allegedly using chemical weapons in rebel-held territories.
“Russia vows to shoot down any and all missiles fired at Syria,” he tweeted. “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!”
The threat of missile strike follows the failure of the United Nations Security Council to pass a resolution on Tuesday condemning the gas attacks and setting up an inquiry into it. A US-sponsored resolution was vetoed by Russia and two proposed by Moscow failed to get a majority.
Meanwhile, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) is sending a fact-finding mission to Syria to investigate the chemical attacks.
A chemical attack is reported to have taken place last Saturday in Douma, where the rebel group Jaish al-Islam controls territory. The US says 89 people were killed and several hundred injured by chemical weapons used there.
The missile attacks would come as Trump is himself under an unprecedented stress at home.
On Monday, the Federal Bureau of Investigation raided his personal lawyer’s office and hotel room and seized documents.
According to media reports, they were looking for documents relating to payoff by the lawyer, Michael Cohen, to a porno actor known as Stormy Daniels and, possibly, other women to keep quiet about the affairs they claim to have had with Trump before he was elected.
Such payoffs could be violations of election or other laws.
Trump has canceled a trip to the Summit of the Americas in Lima, Peru, citing the Syrian developments and spent Tuesday conferring with National Security Adviser John Bolton, military officials and British Prime Minister Theresa May in preparation for attacks on Syrian government facilities.
On Sunday he blamed President Vladimir Putin personally, and Russia and Iran for “backing Animal Assad” and warned they would have a “big price to pay.”
There is a general consensus in the US for an attack on Syria, and by implication on Russia – something that most Democrats would back – with only random pushbacks.
Trump, who ran his election campaign on a vow to reduced military entanglements abroad, had called earlier this month for pulling back the limited US military presence in Syria.
But after the Saturday chemical attack, he called for a tough line against Syria and Russia.
His newly robust stance is bolstered by the addition of two hawks to his foreign policy team: National Security Adviser Bolton and Secretary of State-designate Mike Pompeo.
In a later tweet on Wednesday, a bit of Trump’s ambiguity towards Russia was back: “Our relationship with Russia is worse now than it has ever been, and that includes the Cold War. There is no reason for this.”
Next, he blamed the Democrats for it, tweeting, “Much of the bad blood with Russia is caused by the Fake & Corrupt Russia Investigation, headed up by the all Democrat loyalists, or people that worked for Obama. … No Collusion, so they go crazy!”
Trump’s taunt to Russia to “get ready” may have been prompted by an NBC network report quoting US officials that Russians have began jamming some smaller US drones.
(Arul Louis can be reached at email@example.com)