Several Democratic lawmakers upbraided President Donald Trump on Friday for using social media to telegraph potential attacks against Syria, warning that his "reckless" and "taunting" language endangers American troops.
Nine members of the House of Representatives, all of them US military veterans, urged the president to immediately halt his provocations, which included tweets this week after an apparent chemical weapons attack in the Syrian town of Douma where the British government estimates up to 75 people were killed.
"As military veterans, we are profoundly concerned about the president's reckless use of Twitter and other public forums to discuss the use of military force in Syria," Mike Thompson, Ted Lieu, Seth Moulton and others said in a joint statement.
The group acknowledged that deliberate punitive strikes against Syria should be weighed, given the horrors of an attack that the White House blames squarely on the Syrian regime.
But the lawmakers said Trump's "taunting and flippant language" must stop.
"We have looked the horrors of war head on and we know that launching missiles is a serious matter," they added. "We know that the president's strategy is reckless and irresponsible, and that it endangers our men and women serving in uniform."
On Wednesday, the US commander in chief dramatically escalated tensions after the Syrian regime's most powerful ally, Russia, threatened retaliatory action if US missiles are launched at Syria.
"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!' Trump tweeted.
After missing self-imposed deadlines for a course of action, Trump put off a final Syria decision and softened his timeframe.
"Never said when an attack on Syria would take place. Could be very soon or not so soon at all!" he wrote.
Before his presidency, Trump spoke out against US administrations telegraphing their military plans.
During the 2016 campaign, he criticized president Barack Obama and Trump's chief Democratic rival Hillary Clinton for being too transparent about how they would use US forces or react to military threats.