Following a statement Monday that his response to the recent chemical attack in Syria would come within 48 hours, President Donald Trump tweeted Wednesday morning that Russia should watch out for a missile strike, saying “they will be coming, nice and new and 'smart!'”
The public suggestion of US military confrontation with Russia is sure to raise tensions in an already volatile situation and add more confusion to US policy in the region. Trump said earlier this month -- before the weekend's suspected chemical attack on civilians at the hands of the Assad regime -- that he wanted to withdraw US troops from Syria. Wednesday's statement is also notable because Trump has criticized his predecessors for publicly telegraphing US military action.
Both Syrian and Russian officials offered quick responses to Trump’s Twitter remarks, indicating a desire to avoid escalating tensions in the region:
Syria's Foreign Ministry said it was not surprised by the US' "reckless escalation" via Trump's tweets, the state-run news agency SANA reported, while Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said in a Facebook post that "smart missiles should fly toward terrorists, not the legal government that has been fighting international terrorism for several years on its territory."