After a Russian diplomat warned that any U.S. missiles fired at Syria will be shot down, President Donald Trump warned Wednesday to “get ready.” Photo by Mark Wilson/UPI | License Photo
April 11 (UPI) -- After a Russian diplomat warned that any U.S. missiles fired at Syria will be shot down and their launch sites targeted, President Donald Trump fired back Wednesday -- telling Russia to "get ready."
"Russia vows to shoot down any and all missiles fired at Syria. Get ready Russia, because they will be coming, nice and new and 'smart!'," Trump said in a tweet. "You shouldn't be partners with a Gas Killing Animal who kills his people and enjoys it!"
Trump has been monitoring the situation in Syria since an attack Saturday that killed dozens and injured up to 500 people in Douma, a town in the Damascus suburb of Eastern Ghouta. Officials said at least one helicopter dropped a barrel bomb of chemicals that suffocated a number of civilians, including children.
Trump and Defense Secretary James Mattis said this week they're not ruling out the possibility of military action against President Bashar al-Assad's government after the suspected chemical attack.
Trump had said Monday a response to the Syria attack would come within days.
Trump's fiery response Wednesday comes after Russian Ambassador to Lebanon Alexander Zasypkin said Moscow would refer to President Vladimir Putin's instructions if Syria is attacked, which is to down the missiles and also attack the sources that fired them.
Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said "there are Russians present in large numbers in Syria, and Russia will do everything to protect its people on Syrian soil."
Wednesday, a Russian official said the chemical attack was staged and filmed by members of the White Helmets organization, a volunteer group inside rebel-held areas in Syria.
"Probably the last attempt to stage a chemical weapons attack in Eastern Ghouta was made," Russian Lt. Gen. Viktor Poznikhir said. "The notorious White Helmets, who operate as part of terrorist groups, staged and filmed a chemical weapons attack on civilians in the town of Douma."
Poznikhir said rebel groups have "incessantly attempted" to use chemical weapons attacks to blame the Syrian government forces, adding that a workshop where militants had loaded ammunition with poisonous chemicals was found in underground tunnels.
"Since the beginning of the humanitarian operation in Eastern Ghouta terrorists have failed to fake a single so-called chemical weapon attack against the civilian population," he said.
Tuesday, Trump canceled a trip to a trade summit in Bogota, Colombia, to monitor the situation.
Also Tuesday, Eurocontrol, the pan-European air traffic control agency, warned airlines to exercise caution during the next 72 hours in the eastern Mediterranean due to the possible airstrikes.