CIA Director Mike Pompeo, who has been nominated by President Trump to serve as Secretary of State, says “a couple hundred Russians were killed” by U.S. missile strikes in Syria in February.
“In Syria, now, a handful of weeks ago the Russian met their match,” Pompeo said during a hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “A couple hundred Russians were killed.”
"The list of actions that this administration has taken, I'm happy to walk through each of them, but I don't want to take up more time. The list is pretty long," he said.
But Pompeo said the Russian president has not realized that the U.S. will seek to deter Russia from continuing to wreak havoc in Syria. “Vladimir Putin’s not yet received the message sufficiently. We need continue to work at that,” he told the senators.
Pompeo said in the hearing that Trump has been strong in targeting Russia. 'It hasn't just been sanctions, the largest expulsion of 60 folks was from this administration. This administration announced a nuclear posture review that has put Russia on notice that we are going to recapitalize our deterrent force," he said.
Trump this week warned Russia that its aggression in Syria will not go unchallenged.
In a pair of posts Wednesday on Twitter, Trump told Russia to "get ready" for American "smart" missiles targeted at Syria, just days after the Kremlin vowed it would shoot down U.S. rockets.
"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!'" he said. "You shouldn’t be partners with a Gas Killing Animal who kills his people and enjoys it!" the president added.
Trump also said: "Our relationship with Russia is worse now than it has ever been, and that includes the Cold War. There is no reason for this. Russia needs us to help with their economy, something that would be very easy to do, and we need all nations to work together. Stop the arms race?"
The president's tweets came in an increasingly belligerent battle of words. Earlier this week, Russia's ambassador to Lebanon, Alexander Zasypkin, said Russia would target any incoming missiles to Syria. Last week, reports emerged that a chemical weapons attack had killed at least 40 rebels — Trump blamed Russia and Iran for the attack, both of which have denied the allegation.
"If there is a U.S. missile attack, we — in line with both Putin and Russia's chief of staff's remarks — will shoot down U.S. rockets and even the sources that launched the missiles," Zasypin said, according to Al Jazeera.
Said Pompeo, "The historic conflict between the United States and the Soviet Union and now Russia is caused by Russian bad behavior."