Syrian President Bashar Assad’s office has strongly condemned the US missile attack against a military airfield in the country’s central province of Homs, describing it as“reckless and irresponsible behavior.”
The statement pointed out that the assault showed Washington is “naively pulled behind a false propaganda campaign” – a reference to accusations that the Damascus government was responsible for the suspected chemical incident in the town of Khan Shaykhun, which reportedly left over 80 people dead.
The statement from the Syrian presidential office further noted that the US missile attack had boosted the Syrian government’s resolve to crush foreign-sponsored Takfiri terrorist groups, vowing to expedite the pace of clean-up operations against the extremists.
The Pentagon said 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles were fired from two warships in the Mediterranean at the Shayrat airfield early on Friday. US officials claim that Tuesday’s attack in Khan Shaykhun had been launched from the military site.
The US military said the missiles severely damaged or destroyed Syrian aircraft and support infrastructure and equipment at the airfield.
At least nine people were killed in the early morning strike, according to Syria’s official news agency, SANA. Syria has denounced the US “aggression” as a violation of the international law.
Meanwhile, Syria’s Foreign Ministry condemned the US strike as “a flagrant aggression” against the Arab country, and said Washington’s real objective was to “weaken the strength of the Syrian army in confronting terrorist groups.”
In a Friday statement, the ministry described the Khan Shaykhun attack as a “premeditated action that aimed to justify the launching of a US attack on the Syrian army.”
The Russian Foreign Ministry also censured the attack as an aggression against a sovereign state.
Russian Defense Ministry’s Spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov said Moscow considers the US attack on Shayrat airfield a gross violation of a memorandum on the safety of flights over Syria, and consequently suspends cooperation with Washington meant to avoid incidents in Syrian airspace.
Konashenkov further noted that only 23 missiles from US destroyers reached the targeted Syrian airfield, emphasizing it is unclear where the other 36 landed.
Lavrov hopes US strikes wouldn’t cause ‘irreparable damage’
Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov expressed hope that the US missile strike on Syria would not irreparably damage relations between Moscow and Washington.
“This is an act of aggression, on an absolutely made-up pretext,” Lavrov told a news conference in the Uzbek capital city of Tashkent.
“It reminds me of the situation in 2003 when the United States and Britain, along with some of their allies, attacked Iraq,” the top Russian diplomat said.
He said Russia would demand that US explain the reason behind its strike, noting that no Russian servicemen are known to have been killed in the assault.
“I hope this provocation will not lead to irreparable damage (to US-Russian ties),” Lavrov said.
Russia: Syrian air defenses to be ‘strengthened’
Furthermore, Russia’s military has termed the US missile attack on the Syrian airbase as ineffective, stressing that Syrian air defenses would be strengthened to shield the country’s key infrastructure.
“To protect Syria’s most sensitive infrastructure, a complex of measures will be implemented in the near future to strengthen and improve the effectiveness of the Syrian armed forces’ air defense system,” Konashenkov said in a statement.
He added the strike had had an “extremely low” military impact.
‘Russian air, naval bases in Syria protected by air defense systems’
Additionally, Viktor Ozerov, the chairman of the defense committee in the Federation Council, Russia’s upper house of parliament, said Russia’s airbase in Syria’s western province of Latakia plus its naval facility in the western coastal province of Tartus are protected by S-300 and S-400 air missile defense systems..
“The S-300 and S-400 missile complexes….adequately guarantee the security of our armed forces on land as well as by sea and air,” he said.