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US attack on Syria significantly damaged US-Russia ties: Putin

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Russian President Vladimir Putin (Photo by AFP)

President Vladimir Putin believes a US missile attack on a Syrian airbase near Homs has violated international law and seriously hurt Russia-US relations, the Kremlin says.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Friday that the Russian leader regards the US attack as an act of “aggression against a sovereign nation,” which was carried out based on a “made-up pretext.”

The attack was a cynical attempt to distract the world from civilian deaths in Iraq, he added.

Russia did not believe that Syria possessed chemical weapons, Peskov said, adding the US attack would inevitably create a serious obstacle to creating an international coalition against terrorism.

Earlier in the day, the head of the defense and security committee at the Russian upper house of parliament said Russia will call for an urgent meeting of the UN Security Council over the attack.

Viktor Ozerov warned against the ramifications of the massive US airstrike, saying it "could be viewed as an act of aggression of the U.S. against a UN nation.”

Chairman of the international affairs committee in the upper house of the Russian parliament Konstantin Kosachev also said the attack had put Russia’s cooperation with the US on the Syria crisis in doubt.   

The strikes were intended to “stamp an earlier verdict about (Syrian President Bashar) al-Assad’s responsibility for a chemical attack in Idlib with gunpowder,” Kosachev said.

Chairman of the international affairs committee in the upper house of the Russian parliament Konstantin Kosachev (L) is seen on the sidelines of Munich Security Conference, February 19, 2017.

Russia had warned on Thursday that there could be “negative consequences” if Washington took military action against Syria.

“All responsibility if military action occurs will be on the shoulders of those who initiated such a doubtful tragic enterprise,” Russian Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN Vladimir Safronkov said.

“Look at Iraq, look at Libya,” he said, referring to the countries which have been rocked by violence, terrorism and chaos since the West launched a military intervention.

Avoid further escalation: Beijing

China also reacted to the US military strike, urging calm in dealing with the Syria conflict.

“What is urgent now is to avoid further deterioration of the situation,” said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying on Friday.

She added, “We oppose use of chemical weapons by any country, organization or individual in any circumstance, for any purpose.”

On President Donald Trump’s order, the US launched a military strike Friday morning on a Syrian army airfield in response to an alleged chemical weapons attack in the town of Khan Sheikhun in Idlib Province earlier this week.

The Pentagon said the Russians deployed to the targeted military facility were given prior notice, and that attack did not hit sections of the airbase where Moscow’s forces were reportedly present.

Since 2014, the Russian military has been providing air cover to the Syrian forces operating on the ground against the terrorist groups.

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