President Donald Trump warned that American airstrikes on Syria, in retaliation for a deadly chemical attack, were imminent.
Trump directed a morning tweet at Russia, the Syrian government’s primary ally in the years-long civil war President Bashar Assad has waged against rebel groups. The Kremlin has warned the U.S. it planned to shoot down any U.S. missiles headed for Syria.
“Get ready Russia, because they will be coming, nice and new and ‘smart!’” Trump tweeted. “You shouldn’t be partners with a Gas Killing Animal who kills his people and enjoys it!”
Trump, with his rhetoric, has taken an unusually hard line against the Assad regime’s brutality, condemning the attack as “sick” and “atrocious” and even coining a new nickname for the country’s leader: “Animal Assad.”
The president said Monday that he’d respond within 48 hours, though his administration has yet to formally announce any strikes. Trump did, however, speak with French President Emmanuel Macron and U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May on Tuesday about a possible coordinated response, according to the White House.
Trump reacted forcefully one year ago, following a similar chemical attack on the town of Khan Sheikhoun. He ordered cruise missile strikes on a Syrian airbase, a move experts said did little to deter Assad’s campaign against his own people. Conventional and chemical attacks have continued in the past year, focused on the eastern Ghouta region, one of the last remaining rebel strongholds.
The United Nations refugee agency estimates that more than 133,000 people have fled the region in the past month. More than 1,000 have also been killed in the last two weeks, according to Doctors Without Borders.