Putin slams US, allies for ‘exacerbating humanitarian catastrophe in Syria’
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Saturday slammed the US and its allies for carrying out a military strike on Syria, saying that Washington was “increasingly exacerbating the humanitarian catastrophe in Syria” as he called for an immediate UN Security Council meeting to discuss the “aggressive action”.
“Russia strongly condemns the attack on Syria where Russian servicemen are helping the legitimate government in the war on terrorism,” the Kremlin press office quoted Putin as saying.
“By its actions, the US is increasingly exacerbating the humanitarian catastrophe in Syria and actually conniving at terrorists who have been tormenting the Syrian people for seven years and provoking a new wave of refugees from that country and the region as a whole,” he said.
Putin said the US used a “staged chemical attack” against civilians to carry out the Friday night strike, TASS news agency reported.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said that “the action against Syria came precisely at the moment when the country received a chance for a peaceful future”.
The coordinated airstrikes in Syria were conducted by the US, France and the UK as American President Donald Trump sought to “punish” his Syrian counterpart Bashar al-Assad for an apparent chemical attack in Douma, Eastern Ghouta, last week that killed over 70 people.
The latest strikes targeted three facilities associated with Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal, including a scientific research facility around Damascus, a chemical weapons storage facility around Homs alleged to be used for sarin gas and a nearby command post, according to the Pentagon.
The Syrian Foreign Ministry called the joint airstrikes a “flagrant violation of international law and the principals of the UN charter”, according to the state-run Syrian Arab News Agency.
“Syria calls on the international community to strongly condemn this aggression, which will lead to nothing but the igniting of tensions around the world and pose a threat to international peace and security as a whole,” the ministry said.
British Prime Minister Theresa May and French President Emmanuel Macron confirmed their countries’ involvement in the action with the former saying there was “no practicable alternative to the use of force”.
But May also said the strikes were not about “regime change”. In a further press briefing on Saturday, she said that while the assessment of the strike’s results was still ongoing, May was confident of its success.
Macron, talking about the Douma chemical attack, said: “Dozens of men, women and children were massacred with chemical weapons. The red line had been crossed.”
“We cannot tolerate the normalisation of the employment of chemical weapons, which is an immediate danger to the Syrian people and to our collective security.
“France and its partners will today resume their efforts at the UN to enable the creation of an international mechanism to establish responsibility, prevent impunity and obstruct any temptation on the part of the Syrian regime to repeat these acts.”
Nato Secretary General Jen Stoltenberg tweeted in support for the strikes, saying those who use chemical weapons “must be held accountable”.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also expressed his nation’s support.
Trump indicated the strikes would continue until the Syrian regime’s use of chemical weapons ends.
“We are prepared to sustain this response until the Syrian regime stops its use of prohibited chemical agents,” he added.
(This story has not been modified from its original version)
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