Russia warns Syrian air strikes an ‘act of aggression’

Russian President Vladimir Putin has denounced a US-led air strike on Syria as an “act of aggression” that will exacerbate the humanitarian catastrophe in Syria.

In a statement issued by the Kremlin, the Russian leader said Moscow called for an emergency meeting of the United Nations’ Security Council over the strike launched by the US, Britain and France.

Putin added that the strike had a “destructive influence on the entire system of international relations”.

He reaffirmed Russia’s view that a purported chemical attack in the Syrian town of Douma that prompted the strike was a fake.

Mr Putin added that Russian military experts who inspected Douma found no trace of the attack.

He criticised the US and its allies for launching the strike without waiting for inspectors from the international chemical weapons watchdog to visit the area.

Mr Putin has been a supporter of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, with Russian military forces helping in the Syrian leader’s conflict with rebel forces.

In a televised statement for state media, the Syrian military said the attacks would not diminish the army’s resolve to press the fight against all remaining militants in the country.

The army said nearly 110 missiles hit targets in the capital Damascus and other areas, and air defence systems brought most of them down.

Damascus, with key allies Russia and Iran, have lambasted reports of the suspected gas attack as bogus.

The Syrian Government has accused Washington of seeking to use it as a pretext for attacking.

The Syrian foreign ministry said the US-led strikes would only “lead to inflaming tensions in the world” and threaten international security.

“The barbaric aggression …will not affect in any way the determination and insistence of the Syrian people and their heroic armed forces,” state media quoted an official ministry source as saying.

Following the attacks, hundreds of Syrians gathered at landmark squares in the Syrian capital, honking their car horns, flashing victory signs and waving Syrian and Russian flags in scenes of defiance.

ranian President Hassan Rouhani warned the US-led missile attack on Syria would lead to more destruction in the Middle East, according to Iran’s Tasnim news agency.

“Such attacks will have no result but more destruction … the Americans want to justify their presence in the region by such attacks,” Tasnim quoted Mr Rouhani as saying.

Iran has also been supportive of the Assad regime. (AP/Reuters)