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Iran strongly condemns 'dangerous' US strike on Syria airbase

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi

Iran has strongly condemned a US cruise missile attack on a Syrian army airbase near the west-central city of Homs, calling it "destructive and dangerous". 

Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi said Friday US use of a chemical attack in Syria as a "pretext for unilateral action is dangerous, destructive and violation of peremptory principles of international laws." 

Some 60 US Tomahawk missiles were fires from US warships deployed to the Mediterranean at the Shayrat airfield southeast of Homs earlier in the day, in an assault slammed by Syria as an “act of aggression.”

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Washington ordered the assault after accusing Syria of carrying out a chemical attack against the town of Khan Sheikhun in the northwestern province of Idlib on Tuesday.

Qassemi said, “The Islamic Republic, as the biggest victim of chemical weapons in modern history, condemns any application of such weapons, regardless of the perpetrators and victims.”

However, “the timing, perpetrators, and benefactors of (the chemical attack) are still shrouded in mystery,” he added. 

In this image provided by the US Navy, the USS Ross (DDG 71) fires a tomahawk land attack missile Friday, April 7, 2017, from the Mediterranean Sea. (Via AP)

The spokesman said the US airstrike will only "strengthen the dying terrorist groups and complicate the situation in Syria and the region."

Qassemi, meanwhile, rejected reports that the Iranian Embassy in Damascus had been evacuated and Iranian diplomats had left the county after the US attack.

The diplomats and their families were based in the Syrian capital and the Embassy was conducting its routine operation, he said.

Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani’s special aide in international affairs, said the American attack was meant to encourage terrorism and ignored the political process underway on the Syria crisis.

“In circumstances when Syria has already been disarmed of its chemical weapons, there was a need for rigorous investigation into the accusation of the use of such weapons by the United Nations and [its] Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW),” he said.

The Syrian government turned over its entire chemical stockpile under a deal negotiated by Russia and the United States back in 2013. The OPCW has overseen operations to remove the government chemical arsenal from Syria.

At Damascus’ request, Iran has been providing military advisory assistance to the Syrian government.

Tehran has also been playing an active role on the diplomatic front, where it has mediated, along with Russia and Turkey, three rounds of peace negotiations between Damascus and opposition groups in Astana, Kazakhstan, since the beginning of this year.

With the support of Iran, Russia and Turkey had managed to broker a nationwide ceasefire between the warring sides in Syria ahead of the peace talks.

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