Russia’s ambassador to Lebanon said on Tuesday any U.S. missiles fired at Syria would be shot down and the launch sites targeted, a step that could trigger a major escalation in the Syrian war.
Russian Ambassador Alexander Zasypkin, in comments broadcast on Tuesday evening, said he was referring to a statement by Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Russian armed forces chief of staff.
The Russian military said on March 13 that it would respond to any U.S. strike on Syria, targeting any missiles and launchers involved in such an attack. Russia is Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s most powerful ally.
“If there is a strike by the Americans, then…the missiles will be downed and even the sources from which the missiles were fired,” Zasypkin told Hezbollah’s al-Manar TV, speaking in Arabic. He also said a clash “should be ruled out and therefore we are ready to hold negotiations”.
On Saturday United States and its allies fired 105 missiles on a research centre in Damascus as well as a storage site and a bunker 15 miles west of Homs at 4am Syrian time.
The Syrian regime fired 40 defensive missiles at thin air in a failed attempt to save the three Syrian chemical weapons sites destroyed by allied air strikes, the Pentagon said.
Britain launched eight Storm Shadow cruise missiles from the sky as the US and France provided support from the sea and jets.
France fired 12 cruise missiles, three from a Frigate and nine from aircraft, while the US provided the bulk of the firepower with 85 missiles in total.
The attack targeted Syria from all angles, with ships and submarines firing from the Red Sea, North Arabian Gulf and the Eastern Mediterranean and jets which took off from Cyprus, France and, reportedly, Qatar.
Addressing the media in Virginia, Lt. Gen. Kenneth McKenzie Jr, the director of joint staff, said he would pick three words to describe the attack: “Precise, overwhelming and effective”.
He said Syria had launched 40 surface-to-air missiles in an attempt to shoot the allied weapons down, but that most of them had been fired after the last Syrian target had already been destroyed.