Tuesday 12 December 2017

Missile attack brings countries to brink of military clash, says Moscow

US President Donald Trump (left) and Syria's President Bashar al-Assad (right) Photo: REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque (left) and SANA/Handout via Reuters/File photos (right)
US President Donald Trump (left) and Syria's President Bashar al-Assad (right) Photo: REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque (left) and SANA/Handout via Reuters/File photos (right)

David Raleigh

The Trump administration warned Russia last night that it was prepared to take further steps in Syria after a day of mounting tension between Moscow and Washington.

"The United States took a very measured step last night," Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the UN, told the Security Council, after a missile strike on a Syrian air base. "We are prepared to do more."

The US military fired 59 Tomahawk missiles from warships in the Mediterranean at the al-Shayrat base near the western city of Homs early yesterday. The Pentagon said the base was used to store chemical weapons after at least 86 people, including 33 children, were killed in a nerve gas attack in rebel-held Idlib province earlier this week.

Donald Trump announced the attack from his Florida resort, Mar-a-Lago, where he was meeting Xi Jinping, the Chinese president.

The US strikes provoked fury in Moscow, which diverted a warship to the Mediterranean to protect the Syrian coast and vowed to bolster Bashar al-Assad's defences against further US missile strikes.

Dmitry Medvedev, the Russian prime minister, said the attacks had brought the countries to "the verge of a military clash".

Other world leaders praised the US strikes and urged Mr Putin to hold urgent talks with Mr Trump to prevent the crisis escalating.

Irish Independent

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