Russia's United States ambassador warns of consequences for Syria strikes

Sergio Conner
April 15, 2018

In a series of Twitter broadsides that coincided with Russia-focused segments on his favored channel Fox News, Trump opened the door to military attacks against the Kremlin's Syrian allies and voiced the toughest anti-Russian rhetoric of his presidency.

Reacting to the possibility of military action by the United States, Britain, and France, Vassily Nebenzia, Moscow's UN ambassador, said that the current situation was "very risky".

Haley, who said she would be heading to Washington for meetings later Friday, added that the National Security Council has been cautious and methodical about a decision to retaliate over the attack on the last rebel-held stronghold in Syria, which left at least 49 dead.

The strikes were the biggest intervention by Western powers against Assad in the country's seven-year-old civil war and pitted the United States and its allies against Russian Federation, which itself intervened in the war in 2015 to back Assad.

Asked if he was referring to a war between the United States and Russia, Nebenzia told reporters: "We can not exclude any possibilities unfortunately because we saw messages that are coming from Washington".

Peskov wouldn't say if Moscow could use a Russian-U.S. military hotline to avoid escalation in the event of a U.S. strike, saying only that "the hotline exists and has remained active".

Russia's ambassador to Lebanon on Tuesday had told Lebanon's Al Manar TV that any USA missiles fired at Syria would be shot down and the launch sites targeted, Reuters reported.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told the Security Council Friday that "there is no military solution to the conflict".

Speaking from the White House late Friday, US President Donald Trump said the three nations had "marshalled their righteous power against barbarism and brutality".

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The Trump administration said the same thing a year ago . "The global community was never honest with Syrians", he added. The response was an attempt to weaken Assad's capabilities, and make the prohibition of chemical weapons clear.

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The Russian Foreign Ministry in a statement urged Western leaders to stop actions that may lead to the breakdown of all agreements on resolving the Syrian crisis.

"The United States and its allies have no proof and, without even waiting for the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons [OPCW] to take a position, have carried out this military attack", the foreign ministry said in a statement.

Trump administration officials told The Associated Press in February they believed forces loyal to Assad might have been in the process of working on new or more refined chemical weapons.

Russian Federation has warned the USA and its allies against any steps that could destabilize the situation in Syria.

"If there is a USA missile attack, we - in line with both Putin and Russia's chief of staff's remarks - will shoot down USA rockets and even the sources that launched the missiles", Zasypkin told al Manar.

The allied operation comes a year after a USA missile strike that Trump said was meant to deter Assad from further use of chemical weapons.

A French frigate, UK Royal Navy submarines laden with cruise missiles and the USS Donald Cook, an American destroyer equipped with Tomahawk land attack missiles, have all moved into range of Syria's sun-bleached coast. It also said Russian officers found no patients with chemical attack symptoms at a local hospital, and no indication of any burials of victims. Trump has blamed Assad and Russian Federation for backing him.

Asked to comment on possible US strikes, President Vladimir Putin's spokesman said Thursday that "it's necessary to avoid any steps that may fuel tensions in Syria".

Mattis appealed at the meeting for more time to gather evidence to prove the Assad regime was responsible for the attack. "(They said they would attack United Kingdom and USA destroyer Ships, which U.S. would take as an act of war) Who knows".

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