Russian Trolls Increased '2,000 Percent' After Syria Attack, Pentagon Says

Since the U.S. and its allies attacked Syria Friday in response to alleged chemical weapons attacks on its own people, there has been a significant surge in Russian trolls promoting fake news, the Pentagon announced Saturday.

"As Secretary Mattis said last night, the Russian disinformation campaign has already begun," Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White said in a press conference. "There has been a 2,000 percent increase in Russian trolls in the last 24 hours. Therefore, we will keep you all abreast of the facts moving forward."

Pentagon: “The Russian disinformation campaign has already begun. There has been a 2,000 percent increase in Russian trolls in the last 24 hours.”

— NBC News (@NBCNews) April 14, 2018

Secretary of Defense James Mattis on Friday announced the press briefing would be held Saturday for the specific reason of dispelling false information about the strike coming from Russia, which is a key ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime.

"Based on recent experience, we fully expect a significant disinformation campaign over the coming days by those who have aligned themselves with the Assad regime," said Mattis, adding that White and Lieutenant General Kenneth F. McKenzie would speak "in effort to maintain transparency and accuracy."

White said the U.S. does not seek conflict with Syria but "cannot allow such grievous violations of international law" and attacks on innocent Syrians.

"We will not stand by passively while Assad, backed by Russia and Iran, ignores international law," White said. "We call upon Russia to honor its commitment to ensure the Assad regime dismantles its chemical weapons program and never uses chemical weapons again."

The U.S. had no coordination or agreements with Russians before the strike, McKenzie said.

"We're not cooperating with them in Syria. We don't want to get into a fight with them, they don't want to get in a fight with us," he said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin called strike an "act of aggression against a sovereign state" and claimed they went against the United Nations charter. Putin demanded a United Nations Security Council immediately.