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Trump warns Russia over Syria situation, says missiles 'will be coming'

Russia has vetoed a US-backed motion in the UN to probe the chemical strikes in Syria.

Image: Mark Wilson via PA Images

Updated at 12.20pm

US PRESIDENT DONALD Trump has warned Russia about supporting Syrian President Bashar al Assad, and said US missiles “will be coming” in retaliation for a chemical weapons attack on civilians.

“Russia vows to shoot down any and all missiles fired at Syria,” Trump tweeted this afternoon.

“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!”

Before his tweets this afternoon, the US maintained the threat of missile strikes in response to alleged chemical attacks in Syria, despite the risk of triggering a head-on clash with Damascus ally Russia.

The United States, Britain, and France have argued the incident bears all the hallmarks of a strike ordered by the regime of Bashar al-Assad.

Assad has been blamed for previous attacks by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and UN-backed war crimes investigators.

Trump has made it clear he plans to make the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad, and perhaps his Russian and Iranian backers, pay for the latest alleged toxic gas atrocity in the war-wracked country.

Trump has warned there would be a “big price to pay”, and Washington’s UN ambassador Nikki Haley made it clear that the failure to secure a Security Council vote would not hold America and its allies back.

“Russia has trashed the credibility of the council,” she said.

“Whenever we propose anything meaningful on Syria, Russia vetoes it. It is a travesty.”

Airspace alert

Haley dismissed the Russian draft as “all about protecting the Assad regime” because of provisions that would have required the Security Council to endorse its findings – in other words, giving Russia a veto over any attempt to apportion blame.

Russia, in turn, vetoed the US-backed motion, which would have re-established an international Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM) to probe chemical strikes in Syria and to identify culprits.

Moscow’s UN ambassador Vassily Nebenzia accused Haley of seeking a vote to provide cover for a Western military strike on Assad, which now seems all the more likely.

If you took the decision to carry out an illegal military adventure, and we do hope that you will come to your senses, well then you will have to bear responsibility for it.

Both Trump and his defence secretary Jim Mattis abruptly cancelled upcoming travel plans Tuesday, as the USS Donald Cook – a guided-missile destroyer – moved to within striking range of Syria.

The air traffic control agency Eurocontrol has also released an alert from the European Aviation Safety Agency to flight operators in nearby airspace.

“Due to the possible launch of air strikes into Syria with air-to-ground and/or cruise missiles within the next 72 hours, and the possibility of intermittent disruption of radio navigation equipment, due consideration needs to be taken when planning flight operations in the Eastern Mediterranean / Nicosia FIR area,” it said.

World Health Organization

The World Health Organization (WHO) has demanded “immediate” access to the victims of an alleged chemical attack in Syria, as it voiced indignation at the strike that caused symptoms consistent with exposure to toxic substances.

“We should all be outraged at these horrific reports and images from Douma” where Saturday’s attack took place, said Peter Salama, the UN agency’s chief of emergency response.

“WHO demands immediate unhindered access to the area to provide care to those affected, to assess the health impacts, and to deliver a comprehensive public health response,” he added.

Citing information previously released by local health organisations, WHO said that “an estimated 500 patients presented to health facilities exhibiting signs and symptoms consistent with exposure to toxic chemicals”.

“There were signs of severe irritation of mucous membranes, respiratory failure, and disruption to central nervous systems of those exposed,” the statement added.

WHO has delivered medicine capable of treating certain types of chemical agents to clinics through a series of humanitarian convoys deployed across the country in recent years.

UN officials have also accused Assad’s troops of at times removing those treatments from humanitarian vehicles.

© – AFP 2018

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