Russia Will Bomb U.S. Missile Launch Sites If Trump Attacks Syria, Ambassador Warns

Moscow will shoot down any U.S. missiles fired at Syria and retaliate against American launch sites, the Russian ambassador to Lebanon has warned.

Ambassador Alexander Zasypkin made the comments on Tuesday while speaking on the Hezbollah-affiliated al-Manar TV channel, Reuters reported.

President Donald Trump is currently considering military action against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad following Saturday's suspected chemical attack on the rebel-held town of Douma near the capital city of Damascus. Medical relief groups say the attack killed dozens of civilians.

Russia is Assad's most powerful ally and has been supporting him in the Syrian civil war since September 2015.

Alexander Zasypkin
Russian ambassador to Lebanon Alexander Zasypkin (front L) talks with a Russian pilot at Beirut international airport, Lebanon, on April 3, 2013. Zasypkin has warned that Moscow would retaliate against U.S. airstrikes in Syria. REUTERS/Sharif Karim

On Tuesday, Zasypkin told the Hezbollah-affiliated al-Manar TV channel, "If there is a strike by the Americans, then...the missiles will be downed and even the sources from which the missiles were fired." He added that both sides should avoid a military confrontation, and said "we are ready therefore ready to hold negotiations."

The international community is on edge as Trump decides his course of action. On Tuesday, the president said the U.S. would respond "forcefully" within "the next 24 to 48 hours" if Assad's forces were proven to be behind the attack. The U.K. and France have reportedly agreed to join Trump in his response.

Commercial airlines have been told to exercise caution in the eastern Mediterranean because of the risk of American military action. The European Aviation Safety Agency posted a statement to the Eurocontrol airspace organization website which read, "Due to the possible launch of airstrikes into Syria with air-to-ground and/or cruise missiles within the next 72 hours, and the possibility of intermittent disruption of radio navigation equipment, due consideration needs to be taken when planning flight operations."

The nuclear-powered USS Harry S. Truman aircraft carrier has left the U.S. for the Middle East, though the Navy said the strike group's deployment had been planned in advance.

Tomahawk missile launch US Navy Arabian Gulf
The guided-missile cruiser USS Philippine Sea launches a Tomahawk cruise missile on September 23, 2014 in the Arabian Gulf. President Trump is considering strikes on Assad's forces in Syria following the suspected chemical weapon attack on Saturday. Eric Garst/U.S. Navy via Getty Images

Zasypkin said his warning was was only reiterating a March statement from the Russian military that said the same. Those comments alleged that the U.S. was planning to bomb the government quarter of Damascus on a false pretext.

Valery Gerasimov, head of Russia's general staff, claimed that the U.S. was planning to fake a chemical weapons attack in the besieged rebel-held enclave of Eastern Ghouta which it would then blame on the Syrian armed forces, justifying subsequent airstrikes.

"In the event of a threat to the lives of our servicemen, Russia's armed forces will take retaliatory measures against the missiles and launchers used," Gerasimov said.

Russian and American representatives clashed at a United Nations Security Council meeting yesterday, blocking each other in attempts to set up international investigations into chemical weapons use in Syria.

During the meeting, Russia's United Nations envoy Vasily Nebenzia urged the U.S. to "refrain from the plans that you're currently developing," warning that America would "bear responsibility" for and "illegal military adventure" it embarks upon.