Fears of confrontation between Russian Federation and the West have been running high since Trump said a day earlier that missiles “will be coming” after the suspected chemical weapons attack in the Syrian town of Douma on April 7, and lambasted Moscow for standing by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Speaking of Assad and his suspected role in last week’s chemical weapons attack, Trump said, “These are not the actions of a man”.
While the rebel-held town of Douma was under heavy government attack, dozens of civilians died in a strike that pro-opposition activists and rescue workers allege was a chemical attack.
The former official spoke on condition of anonymity, lacking authorization to speak publicly about planning.
The president’s comment came shortly after he warned Russian Federation that the United States will be attacking Bashar al-Assad’s regime.
“Right now this is a one-time shot”, he said but did not rule out further attacks.
Earlier this month, a United Nations commission of inquiry released a report accusing the regime of committing war crimes in Eastern Ghouta, including the use of chemical weapons against civilians.
On Friday, before Trump’s announcement, Russia’s government news site Tass reported that the Russian Navy was monitoring US and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ships in the eastern Mediterranean.
Russian Federation also warned the West against any “dangerous” moves on Syria as its rivals hesitated over possible strikes on the country which Moscow has warned could lead to “war”.
It’s worth noting that more than a half million Syrians have died in the seven-year-old war (now entering its eighth year).
The decision by the United States to strike marked Mr Trump’s second order to attack Syria; he authorised a barrage of Tomahawk cruise missiles to hit a single Syrian airfield in April 2017 in retaliation for Syria’s use of sarin gas against civilians. It was one of the least lethal responses considered.
Amid the talk of military action, the Kremlin, a close ally of Assad, countered that more “serious approaches” were needed to combat the crisis.
The British Defense Ministry said that four British fighter jets were taking part in the coalition airstrike.
“Not one of the cruise missiles released by the U.S. and its allies entered the zone of responsibility of Russian air defences protecting facilities in Tartus and Hmeimim”, the ministry said in a statement carried by the RIA Novosti state news agency, referring to the locations of Russia’s naval and air bases.
He added: “We know for certain that between April 3 and April 6 the so-called White Helmets were seriously pressured from London to speed up the provocation that they were preparing”.
The decision to strike, after days of deliberations, marked Trump’s second order to attack Syria. This, he said, must change because “the risk of escalation with any military action in a country in which Russia, Iran and Turkey have deployed troops and proxies is far too great to leave to any executive acting on their own”.
Mr Trump said the United States was not seeking an “indefinite presence” in Syria.
A second USA official said targets were being carefully selected with the aim of damaging Assads ability to conduct further gas attacks, while avoiding the risk of spreading poisonous fallout in civilian areas. They would probably use missiles that can be fired from a safe distance.
White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement on Wednesday morning (AEDT) that the President will not attend the Summit of the Americas in Lima, Peru or travel to Bogota, Colombia as planned. Those systems encircle Damascus and some of Syria’s larger bases.
Syrian television reported that Syria’s air defences, which are substantial, responded to the attack. He, like Thompson, anxious about the Russian reaction.