Russian President Vladimir Putin condemned and described United States, British and French air and naval forces’ strike against the Syrian government’s chemical weapon arsenal in retaliation for the use of such weapons on civilians as “aggression against a sovereign state.”
“On April 14, the United States, supported by its allies, launched an airstrike against military and civilian targets in the Syrian Arab Republic. An act of aggression against a sovereign state that is on the frontline in the fight against terrorism was committed without a mandate from the UN Security Council and in violation of the UN Charter and norms and principles of international law,” the Russian leader said.
“Russia condemns in the strongest possible terms the attack against Syria, where Russian military personnel are assisting the legitimate government in its counterterrorism efforts,” he said.
“Just as one year ago, when the Shayrat Airbase in Syria came under attack, the US used as a pretext a staged chemical attack against civilians, this time in Douma, a Damascus suburb. Having visited the site of the would-be chemical attack, Russian military experts did not find any traces of chlorine or any other toxic agent,” Putin added.
He said not a single Syrian was able to confirm that a chemical attack had actually taken place.
Putin said Russia will convene an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council to discuss the aggressive actions by the US and its allies.
The US Department of Defense said the strikes hit Syrian leader Bashar Assad’s chemical weapon research, development and production facilities. It added that the latest strikes were far harder than the ones last year, when the United States launched 58 missiles against the Shayrat air base following a chemical attack.
“Obviously, the Assad regime did not get the message last year,” US Defense Secretary James N. Mattis said.
The strikes now send a very clear message to Syrian leaders “that they should not perpetrate another chemical weapons attack for which they will be held accountable,” the secretary added.
“The first target was a scientific research center located in the greater Damascus area. This military facility was a Syrian center for the research, development, production and testing of chemical and biological warfare technology,” US Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Marine Corps General Joe Dunford said.
“The second target was a chemical weapons storage facility west of Homs. We assessed that this was the primary location of Syrian sarin and precursor production equipment,” General Dunford said.
“The third target, which was in the vicinity of the second target, contained both a chemical weapons equipment storage facility and an important command post,” the General added. “The strike was not only a strong message to the regime that their actions were inexcusable, but it also inflicted maximum damage, without unnecessary risk to innocent civilians.”
Sources: http://en.kremlin.ru/events/president/news/57257; https://www.defense.gov/News/Article/Article/1493636/mattis-dunford-detail-attacks-on-syrian-chemical-arsenal/; https://www.defense.gov/News/Transcripts/Transcript-View/Article/1493658/briefing-by-secretary-mattis-on-us-strikes-in-syria/