Monitoring how the White House responds to chemical attack in Syria

By Syan Rhodes - Anchor/Reporter

HOUSTON - Syrian-Americans living in Houston are closely watching to see whether President Donald Trump's war of words with Russia over an alleged chemical attack in Syria will turn into a U.S. missile strike against the war-torn country. 

President Trump sent a warning to Syria's longtime ally Russia via Twitter Wednesday morning. 

"Russia vows to shoot down any and all missiles fired at Syria. Get ready Russia, because they will be coming, nice and new and "smart!" You shouldn't be partners with a Gas Killing Animal who kills his people and enjoys it," he said, referring to Syrian President Bashar Assad. 

"I will salute anything (that) comes from President Trump on this action and I hope it will lead to some kind of significant changes on the ground," said Mahmoud Barazi, a Syrian-American physician living in Houston. 

He and his wife still have family in Syria, which has been in a state of civil war for seven years. 

"I  worry about it every single moment of every single day," said Lema Barazi.

Russian diplomats responded to the president's tweet by saying that there are a lot of Russians on the ground in Syria and that Russia would thwart any attack on the country and retaliate against any country behind a missile strike. 

"I assume if we're going to strike places, we're going to try as much as possible to avoid killing Russians," said Ric Stoll, professor of political science at Rice University. 

Stoll says it's unclear what the Trump administration's long-term plan would be in Syria beyond a possible missile strike or how that would affect the U.S. Russia relationship.

"The first step is often easy or seems obvious, but the consequences can be pretty grave," Stoll said. 

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