In response to US President Donald Trump's threat of an imminent missile attack on Syria, Russia has advised Washington to target terrorists instead of the Syrian government and its forces.
"Smart missiles should fly toward terrorists, not legal government," a Russian foreign ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova wrote on her Facebook page Wednesday, shortly after Trump warned Russia in an incendiary tweet to “get ready” for US strikes in Syria.
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!” You shouldn’t be partners with a Gas Killing Animal who kills his people and enjoys it!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 11, 2018
The tweet came after the United Nations Security Council failed to fend off the prospect of a possible military intervention by the West in the Arab country over an alleged chemical weapons attack that took place outside Damascus over the weekend.
The US and its allies have stepped up the war talk over the past days while Russia, Iran and other regional players have invited all parties to exercise restraint and look forward to the outcome of investigations into the matter.
The Syrian Foreign Ministry has official asked the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to send a fact-finding mission to Douma and investigate the alleged use of chemical weapons there.
Zakhorva said a potential attack by the US might be aimed at destroying the evidence altogether in order to hinder any such probes.
"Have the OPCW inspectors been warned smart missiles will eliminate all alleged chemical weapons-related evidence on the ground?" she said.
"Or is the real purpose to promptly eliminate the traces of a provocation using smart missile strikes to create a situation where international inspectors will have no evidence to look for?" she added.
Trump's aggressive rhetoric over the issue has further strained relations between Moscow and Washington.
Shortly after his first tweet, Trump posted a rather strange one admitting that ties between the two sides were even worse than they were during Cold War.
"Our relationship with Russia is worse now than it has ever been, and that includes the Cold War. There is no reason for this. Russia needs us to help with their economy, something that would be very easy to do, and we need all nations to work together. Stop the arms race?" he wrote.
Russia-US conflict in Syria sets Mideast afire: Turkey
Meanwhile, Turkey warned Wednesday that a possible military confrontation between the US and Russia in Syria would set the whole Middle East region on fire.
"If an attack occurs against the forces [in Syria] backed by Russia or there is an attack by the US-supported forces, Russia won’t be able to stay away, otherwise it will lose its influence. So, serious clashes may start," Turkish National Defense Minister Nurettin Canikli told the 24 TV channel.
"Just one spark may set the entire region on fire and open the door for the conflict," he warned, asking both sides to de-escalate.
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