President Donald Trump took to Twitter yesterday to warn Russia to prepare for possible airstrikes against Syria. Russia is Syria largest benefactor.
“Russia vows to shoot down any and all missiles fired at Syria. 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 wrote.
Russian officials have warned that U.S. airstrikes will be met with a response.
Tensions have risen after scores of people, many of them children, were killed in in the city of Douma in Eastern Ghouta on Saturday. Ghouta is a suburban area of Damascus, the Syrian capital. Douma was the last rebel-held town in the area.
The deaths are suspected to have been caused by chemical weapons used the Bashar Assad regime. The Assad regime denies using any chemical weapons.
Russian officials are also denying the reports. They claim reports of the attack are being used as a provocation and justification of western interference into the 8-year-old Syrian Civil War. Russian officials also claim to have conducted a search of the site that was hit with chemical agents. Samples they say were taken from the site show no signs of a chemical weapon attack.
Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, wondered if the U.S. was orchestrating an attack against Syria in order to eliminate any evidence of the chemical weapons attack. She also warned that any missile fired against Russian personnel would be shot down and that launch sites would be targeted as well, further escalating tension.
President Trump commented on the deteriorating relations in a tweet. “Our relationship with Russia is worse now than it has ever been, and that includes the Cold War. There is no reason for this. Russia needs us to help with their economy, something that would be very easy to do, and we need all nations to work together. Stop the arms race?”
The Syrian American Medical Society is reporting that some 500 people have been treated for symptoms of exposure to some kind of chemical agent. SAMS is also reporting that seventy people have died as a result of the attack over the weekend, including forty-three whose symptoms are consistent with a chemical weapons attack.
It as of yet unclear whether banned chemical weapons where used in the attack. A team from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons is set to deploy to the area later this week to search for signs of banned chemical weapons.