US warned Russian forces of impending attack on Syrian government airbase

Source: AP
Source: AP

The Trump administration warned Russia in advance of Thursday night's U.S. missile attack on al-Shayrat military airfield in Syria, where previous reports indicated Russian military assets were stationed. 

According to CNBC, the strike attacked targets that form part of the airbase, which was allegedly used to launch a chemical weapons attack on civilians. President Donald Trump said in a video statement Thursday night that he ordered the attack in the wake of the chemical attack.

It's not clear whether the warning made to Russian forces was, in turn, passed on to Syrian government forces. The Russian government has lent extensive support to its ally, dictator Bashar al-Assad's government.

CNBC also reported Russia's deputy U.N. envoy, Vladimir Safronkov, warned the Trump administration of "negative consequences" if the United States attacked Syria.

"We have to think about negative consequences, negative consequences and all the responsibility if military action occurred will be on shoulders of those who initiated such doubtful and tragic enterprise," Safronkov said.

It is unclear whether Russian military personnel or assets were stationed at al-Shayrat and, if so, whether they were evacuated after receiving prior notice of the attack.

NBC News and journalists from other outlets reported that the United States used a "deconfliction line" to communicate the warning the Russians. The line is a military-to-military communication channel used to make sure U.S. forces engaged in the fight against the anti-Assad extremist group ISIS don't accidentally engage in fighting that puts Russian in danger.

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Tom McKay

Tom is a staff writer at Mic, covering national politics, media, policing and the war on drugs. He is based in New York and can be reached at tmckay@mic.com.

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