Trump on Wednesday vowed to thwart Russia's missile defense system in Syria, warning that rockets "will be coming, nice and new and 'smart.'" In tweeting about a potential attack, Trump appeared to publicly telegraph military plans - something for which he heavily criticized former President Barack Obama back in 2013.
Trump's tweet was reacting to a warning from Russian Federation that any USA missiles fired at Syria over the deadly assault on Saturday on the rebel enclave of Douma near Damascus would be shot down and the launch sites targeted.
The U.S. took care to avoid Russian targets during an air strike in April 2017.
The Russian military announced on Thursday that the Syrian government is now in full control of a town on the outskirts of Damascus that was held by the rebels and that was the site of suspected chemical attack over the weekend.
The U.S., France and Britain have been in extensive consultations about launching a military strike as early as the end of this week, U.S. officials have said.
Trump's comments follow remarks from Russia's ambassador to Lebanon, who reportedly said told a Hezbollah television station Tuesday that Russian Federation would shoot down American missiles fired at Syrian government targets.
On Wednesday, the UN's World Health Organization demanded access to the area to verify reports from its partners, who include Sams, that 70 people had died - including 43 who showed "symptoms consistent with exposure to highly toxic chemicals".
Efforts to find a diplomatic solution at the U.N. Security Council on Tuesday failed, with Washington and Moscow opposing each other's rival motions to set up an worldwide investigation into chemical weapons use. After lauding global cooperation in a United Nations speech previous year, Macron now finds himself planning a military attack without a UN mandate - hence his need for allies.
Yet even more disturbing was Trump's signal last week to Russian Federation and Iran - and Bashar al-Assad - that he wants to pull 2,000 USA forces out of northeast Syria in four to six months. Trump tweeted, referring to Moscow's alliance with Assad.
"I would once again beseech you to refrain from the plans that you're now developing", Moscow's United Nations envoy Vasily Nebenzia said on Tuesday. Nor will the ad hominem name-calling that Trump delights in on Twitter impress Putin or Assad.
"We can not allow atrocities like that", Trump said during a Cabinet meeting Monday.
Then, striking a more conciliatory tone, he said: "There is no reason for this".
Unless someone can inject some coherence into Trump's scattershot approach to Syria, a missile attack could do more harm than good.
The Kremlin has said it will shoot down US missiles if it conducts a strike, and that it would view such an attack as a war crime.
The threat of missile strike follows the failure of the United Nations Security Council to pass a resolution on Tuesday condemning the gas attacks and setting up an inquiry into it.
Despite strong reservations expressed by some Democrats in Congress, the likelihood of Trump ordering a military strike seemed high given his public threats and indications from Britain and France that they, too, believe the Syrian government was behind the April 7 poison gas attack and must be penalized.