President Donald Trump warned on Wednesday that airstrikes against Syria were imminent after a Russian diplomat pledged that U.S. missiles would be shot down and their launch sites targeted.
“Russia vows to shoot down any and all missiles fired at Syria,” Trump said in a tweet. “Get ready Russia because they will be coming, nice and new and ‘smart.'”
His comments follow an alleged chemical attack on a rebel enclave near Damascus over the weekend, and come after the Russian Ambassador to Lebanon, Alexander Zasypkin, warned that American military assets would be targeted in the event of a strike against Syria.
“If there is a strike by the Americans, then we refer to the statements of President [Vladimir] Putin and the chief of staff that the missiles will be downed and even the sources from which the missiles were fired,” he told Hezbollah’s al-Manar TV.
The Russian military announced later on Wednesday that it was sending troops to secure Douma, where dozens were allegedly killed Saturday in a suspected poison gas attack.
A Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, also told NBC News that “there are Russians present in large numbers in Syria, and Russia will do everything to protect its people on Syrian soil.”
Zakharova responded to Trump’s comments in a subsequent Facebook post.
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SOURCE: NBC News, F. Brinley Bruton and Keir Simmons