US President Donald Trump confirms that he is preparing to hit Syria, in the wake of the alleged chemical attack that occurred Saturday in the rebel city of Duma, despite Russian threats of immediate retaliation.
“Russia promises to shoot down any missile fired towards Syria. Be ready, Russia, because they are coming,” he tweeted early in the day adding, they are “beautiful, new and intelligent!”
Earlier in the day, Russian ambassador to Lebanon Alexander Zassipkin told Hezbollah television channel Al Manar that any US missile fired on Syria would be shot down and that the sites from which they took off would be shot down. targeted.
“In the event of an American strike […], the missiles will be shot down and even the sources from which these missiles come will be targeted,” said the diplomat. Any confrontation “must be excluded and therefore we are ready to engage in negotiations. ”
The Pentagon declined to comment on the tweet of President Trump, who is the commander-in-chief of the armies. “The [Defense] department is not commenting on potential future military actions,” spokesman Eric Pahon said. “To characterize the president’s tweet, refer to the White House.”
“As the president noted on April 8, the Syrian regime’s chemical weapons attack on innocent civilians in Duma on April 7 was horrible, and demands an immediate response from the international community,” he added.
Forty minutes after his first tweet on Syria, President Trump sent a second tweet, borrowing a different tone.
“Our relationship with Russia is worse than ever, and that includes the cold war. There is no reason for that. Russia needs our help for its economy, something that would be very easy to do, and we need all countries to work together. Stop the arms race? He wrote.
A “dangerous” climb, according to Damascus
“We are not surprised by this dangerous escalation from a regime like the United States that has sponsored and still sponsors terrorism in Syria,” said a source from the Foreign Ministry, quoted by Sana.
The spokeswoman of the Russian diplomacy, Maria Zakharova, also quickly responded to the first tweet of the US president, in a message posted on Facebook. “Guided missiles should go to terrorists, not to the legal government that has been fighting international terrorism for years,” she wrote.
Would the idea be to quickly erase the traces of provocation by intelligent missile strikes, and inspectors will have nothing to find in terms of evidence?
Maria Zakharova, spokesperson for Russian diplomacy
Ms. Zakharova also welcomed the idea of ending the arms race with irony. ” Good idea ! It is proposed to start with the destruction of chemical weapons. Let the United States do it first, “she replied.
On Tuesday, Washington and Moscow met at the UN Security Council during a debate on the creation of a new investigative mechanism on the use of chemical weapons in Syria.
The debate did not succeed, despite lengthy negotiations.
On Monday, Trump announced that a decision on Syria would be taken within 24 to 48 hours . He had said the day before in a tweet that Syria would have a “high price” to pay for this “senseless chemical attack” he blamed from the outset to the Syrian regime of Bashar Al-Assad.
In recent days, the US President has had discussions on this topic with French President Emmanuel Macron and British Prime Minister Theresa May.
Trump contradicts his military approach
President Trump’s warning on Wednesday contradicts an approach he has often defended about military strikes, namely not to announce them in advance, as a matter of not allowing the enemy to predict the blow.
In an interview with Fox News in April 2017, for example, he refused to say whether he could hit North Korea if he continued his ballistic missile program. “I do not want to telegraph what I do or think,” he argued. “I’m not like the other administrations, who say,” We’ll do that in four weeks. ” It does not work like that, “he pleaded.
When President Obama threatened to hit Syria in August 2013 after another alleged chemical attack, Mr. Trump also defended the same position. “Why can not we be quiet and, if we attack, take them by surprise? ”
He argued at the time, however, that the United States should not proceed, arguing that it would look bad if “innocent civilians were wounded or killed”.
If he puts his threat into action, Mr. Trump will not be at his first strike in Syria. A year ago, it ordered the launch of 59 cruise missiles on a Syrian regime base in retaliation for a sarin gas attack that killed more than 80 civilians in Khan Cheikhoun, Idlib province.
He justified the attack by stating that it was “in the vital interest of the United States national security to prevent and deter the spread and use of lethal chemical weapons”.