Oren Dorell, USA TODAY Published 10:29 p.m. ET April 13, 2018 | Updated 11:37 p.m. ET April 13, 2018
President Donald Trump spoke to the nation late Friday on U.S. missile strikes against the Assad regime in response to its purported chemical weapons attack against Syrian civilians. (April 13) AP
Syria’s President Bashar Assad announced after a U.S. military strike that his country would respond, while Russia’s ambassador to Washington warned of unspecified “consequences.”
“Good souls will not be humiliated,” Assad said on his official Twitter account.
President Trump on Friday announced that a series of strikes were launched by the United States, France and Britain on Assad’s chemical weapons facilities in Syria. Trump said the attack would be sustained to ensure that Syria does not use chemical weapons to attack civilians.
After the Pentagon said the strikes were over, Russian ambassador Anatoly Antonov issued a statement on Twitter accusing the allies of “a pre-designed scenario” against Russia and Syria.
“Again, we are being threatened. We warned that such actions will not be left without consequences,” Antonov said. “All responsibility for them rests with Washington, London and Paris.”
He added: “Insulting the president of Russia is unacceptable and inadmissible. The U.S. — the possessor of the biggest arsenal of chemical weapons — has no moral right to blame other countries.”
Russian military and diplomatic officials warned before Trump ordered a military strike on Syria that they would counter any attack on Syrian forces in retaliation for an alleged chemical attack on April 7.
Russia’s ambassador to Lebanon on Tuesday had told Lebanon’s Al Manar TV that any U.S. missiles fired at Syria would be shot down and the launch sites targeted, Reuters reported.
Russian Ambassador to Beirut Alexander Zasypkin cited orders by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“If there is a U.S. missile attack, we — in line with both Putin and Russia’s chief of staff’s remarks — will shoot down U.S. rockets and even the sources that launched the missiles,” Zasypkin told al Manar.
On Friday, before Trump’s announcement, Russia’s government news site Tass reported that the Russian Navy was monitoring U.S. and NATO ships in the eastern Mediterranean.
Warships and submarines of the Russian naval task force were keeping track at a close distance of U.S. and NATO assault ships and submarines in the area, Tass said, citing military and diplomatic sources.
The Russian navy ships were ordered to monitor the underwater, surface and air situation in the eastern part of the Mediterranean Sea, including approaches and maneuvering of foreign ships in the area near Syria’s Tartus, a port city where Russia has its only foreign base outside of Europe.
Russia in the past week also sought to counter U.S. diplomatic efforts to marshal international support for its condemnation of the Syrian government led byAssad, who the U.S. has concluded ordered the chemical attack that killed dozens of Syrian civilians in the East Goutha suburb of Damascus.
Russia’s diplomats and military officers issued numerous contradictory statements about the chemical attack, saying it didn’t happen, that it launched by Syrian rebels on themselves, and that British intelligence ordered it as a provocation.
Iran’s Fars News Agency reported Friday that Russian fighter jets were patrolling Syrian air space to defend against any attackers.
The Russian aircraft were scrambled in response to reports of seven U.S. spy planes near the coastal regions of Tartus and Lattakia.
The U.S. aircraft were reported flying along the coast near Russia’s Humeimim Military Airport in the southwestern Lattakia province, Fars reported.
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