File photo shows US President Donald Trump salutes a military aide upon arrival at Newark Liberty Airport in Newark in June 2017. File photo: AFP/Mandel Ngan
Washington, United States – US President Donald Trump has said that ‘smart’ missiles will soon target Syria, following the alleged chemical attack in Douma, near the capital Damascus over the weekend.
In a defiant tweet, President Trump said that the missile attack will defy Russian warnings.
“Russia vows to shoot down any and all missiles fired at Syria,” Trump tweeted on Wednesday.
“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!”
Russia said in response to Trump’s tweet that any attacks in Syria should avoid the “lawful government” of Syria.
“Smart missiles should fly towards terrorists, not [Syria’s] lawful government,” Maria Zakharova, spokesperson for the Russian Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday, Russia Today reported.
US Secretary of Defense James Mattis said on Wednesday afternoon that they are “assessing the intelligence” in coordination with allies and “stand ready to provide military options, if they are appropriate.”
Sweden has warned against military action.
"What the Syrian people want and need is peace and justice, not further military escalations or impunity," Olof Skoog, Sweden's ambassador to the UN, told reporters.
"Let that also be a response to planned military interventions. Whatever happens now needs to be in line with international law."
Russia’s Zakharova claimed that the US missile threat may be an attempt to undermine the fact-finding mission by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).
Iraqi hardline Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr denounced Trump’s tweets as provocative and said Iraq will not stand by and watch an escalation of the conflict in neighbouring Syria.
"We, in Iraq, will not allow the war in Syria to expand," he said. "We express our readiness to the Iraqi government to protect the western borders, to fend off the American evil, actually American occupation of Syria."
The OPCW have said they will send an investigation team to Douma following a request by the Syrian regime, and its Russian backer.
The World Health Organization (WHO) also demanded “immediate unhindered access” to Douma in a statement released Wednesday afternoon.
"We should all be outraged at these horrific reports and images from Douma,” said Dr. Peter Salama, WHO Deputy Director- General for Emergency Preparedness and Response.
“According to reports from Health Cluster partners, during the shelling of Douma on Saturday, an estimated 500 patients presented to health facilities exhibiting signs and symptoms consistent with exposure to toxic chemicals,” the statement read.
The statement by WHO reported that there were 70 deaths of innocent civilians with 43 of those deaths “related to symptoms consistent with exposure to highly toxic chemicals.”
The United States, the United Kingdom, and France have been discussing a joint response to the alleged gas attack in Douma Saturday night that killed at least 50 people.
President Trump canceled his South American tour so that he can address the Syrian situation.
He said on Monday that he would make a decision in
24 to 48 hours
about how to respond to the reported chemical weapon attack on Syria’s rebel-held Douma neighborhood.
“It was atrocious. It was horrible,” Trump told reporters on Monday. “This is about humanity and it can’t be allowed to happen.”
“I don’t rule out anything right now,” he said then when asked about the possibility of airstrikes.
Moscow and Damascus have both denied using chemical weapons.
In April 2017, the US launched 59 Tomahawk missiles at Syria’s Shayrat airbase after a reported chemical weapon attack on Khan Sheikhoun.
Russia blamed Israel for air strikes on Syria’s T-4 airbase early Sunday morning where Iranian security members were among those killed in the deadly attack. Israel is yet to confirm if it were behind the airstrikes.
The United Nations Security Council failed on Tuesday to pass a resolution
oon the chemical weapon use in Syria after two separate drafts backed by Russia and the United States failed to pass.
Last updated at 6:47 p.m.