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President Donald Trump calls on a reporter during a news conference, Thursday, Feb. 16, 2017, in the East Room of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

All sides are bracing for Trump's promised strike on Syria


WASHINGTON (Circa) -- Whether it is U.S. leaders in Washington or Assad regime troops on the ground in Syria, all sides are readying for President Donald Trump's promised response to a recent chemical weapons attack on Syrian civilians.

Trump promised Russia that missiles "will be coming" into Syria in a tweet Wednesday, apparently in response to a Russian claim that any such missiles would be shot down. Meanwhile in Syria, the forces of President Bashar al-Assad and his allies have evacuated from certain military bases, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Eurocontrol, the European air safety organization, issued a statement on Tuesday warning passenger jets to use caution when flying in the eastern Mediterranean due to concerns of a missile strike.

"We can't let atrocities like we all witnessed, and you can see that and it's horrible, we can't let that happen in our world," Trump told reporters, regarding a chemical weapons attack on civilians over the weekend. "We can't let that happen, especially when we're able to because of the power the United States, because of the power of the United States, because of the power of the country we're able to stop it."

Trump's rhetoric toward Syria has been so aggressive, that some political leaders and analysts view a retaliatory strike as a practical inevitability.

"Trump says he's going to pay a big price," said Sen. Lindsey Graham in an interview with CNN, regarding Assad. "At the end of the day, if he doesn't pay a big price, then President Trump becomes like Obama. Weak in the eyes of our enemies and unreliable in the eyes of our allies."

It appears Trump also has the support of U.S. allies should he engage in a retaliatory strike. He spoke with U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May on Tuesday, who agreed the international community must respond. May reportedly also spoke with her French counterpart, Emmanuel Macron, who held similar sentiments.

"Australia will support any action that is targeted, calibrated, and proportionate," Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop recently told reporters.

Russia, in characteristic fashion, has continued to defend its Syrian allies, and once again provided Assad with diplomatic cover at the United Nations by vetoing a proposed U.S. resolution on Syria Tuesday. U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley responded, claiming the Kremlin chose "protecting a monster" over Syrian civilians.

It has been just over a year since Trump authorized a missile strike against a Syrian air base in response to a chemical attack, which caused limited damage to an Assad airbase. According to a report by the Royal United Services Institute, striking Syria in a more significant fashion may be difficult, considering the advanced air defenses Assad's Russian allies have installed to protect the country's airspace. That said, this time around there is a possibility that the U.S. will be joined by allied forces.

Whether or not Trump fulfills his promise to strike Syria, he will still have to determine his strategy for the country going forward. Last week, Trump signaled his desire to remove the U.S. military presence, currently hovering around 2,000 troops, from Syria considering the fight against ISIS is nearing an end. His military and national security officials have urged caution, noting that there is still much to be done.

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