Missile strikes on Syria put US-Russia ties at risk

The US military strike against Syria ruptured Russian-American relations on Friday as the Kremlin denounced President Trump’s use of force and suspended an agreement to share information about air operations over the country that was devised to avoid accidental conflict. Trump’s hopes for improving ties with Moscow seemed at risk as both sides traded harsh words in a diplomatic confrontation. President Vladimir Putin’s office called the missile strike on Syria a “significant blow” to the Russian-US relationship while Trump administration officials suggested Russia bore some responsibility for the chemical weapons attack on civilians that precipitated the missile strike.

The strike demonstrated the potential dangers of Russian and American forces operating in proximity and American military planners acted to avert a direct conflict. Fewer than 100 Russian troops deployed in support of the Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad were believed to be stationed at the Syrian air base targeted by American forces. An American official said the Russians on the ground were given just 60 to 90 minutes of advance notice that the cruise missiles were coming. Although Russia did not deploy its air defense system in Syria against the American cruise missiles, it flexed its military muscles after the attack.

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