NEW YORK (CBSMiami) – The U.S. and Russia are shoring up defenses near Syria as tensions escalate after last weekend’s alleged chemical attack there.
Behind the scenes, diplomats at the United Nations are trying to calm the war of words.
U.S. warships carrying 65-hundred sailors are on their way to the Middle East for a previously scheduled deployment. It’s unclear what their mission will be, but they’re being sent amid heightened tension in Syria.
Russia is also moving into position to protect its assets in Syria from a possible U.S. retaliatory strike. The build-up comes less than a week after the Syrian government is suspected of poisoning dozens of its civilians in a deadly gas attack.
The world health organization says 43 people have now died from Saturday’s apparent attack and more than 500 have been treated.
Russia, a key ally of Syria, warned that any U.S. missiles fired at Syria would be shot down and America’s launch sites targeted. It said it would consider an assault on Syria to be a war crime, one that could possibly lead to direct conflict with the U.S.
President Donald Trump responded with a tweet Wednesday saying Russia should 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!” You shouldn’t be partners with a Gas Killing Animal who kills his people and enjoys it!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 11, 2018
On Thursday, Trump followed up.
Never said when an attack on Syria would take place. Could be very soon or not so soon at all! In any event, the United States, under my Administration, has done a great job of ridding the region of ISIS. Where is our “Thank you America?”
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 12, 2018
When asked about it, Trump hedged on whether military action was inevitable.
“It’s too bad that the world puts us in a position like that, but you know as I said this morning, we’ve done a great job with ISIS. We have just absolutely decimated ISIS. But now we have to make some further decisions, so they’ll be made fairly soon,” he said.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said any potential action by the West would cause more instability in the region.
Britain’s Prime Minister is likely to give the go-ahead to join the U.S. and France in a military response. The UN Security Council is holding a special meeting Thursday to discuss how to keep the situation from spiraling out of control.