EghtesadOnline: Iran's Foreign Ministry strongly condemned US missile attacks against a Syrian airbase, saying it will complicate matters further and spoil the chances of resolving the six-year conflict.
Two US warships fired nearly 60 cruise missiles from the eastern Mediterranean Sea at the Shuayart Airbase at approximately 2:40 a.m. local time on Friday, causing significant damage to the military installation in the east of Homs Governorate.
At least six people were killed in the strike, according to a Syrian Army statement published by SANA, which denounced the US move as a violation of international law, calling it an aggression that undermines Damascus' counter-terrorism operations and makes the US a partner of terrorist groups.
Al-Masdar News reported that the missiles mostly focused on the airfields, fuel tankers and aircraft hangars.
According to Reuters, US President Donald Trump ordered the strike, declaring he acted in America's "vital national security interest".
Speaking in a televised statement after the strike, Trump claimed it was against a Syrian airbase from which a suspected chemical weapons attack in Khan Sheikhoun in Idlib Province was launched on Tuesday.
The incident in Idlib left dozens of people dead.
"There can be no dispute that Syria used banned chemical weapons, violated its obligations under the chemical weapons convention and ignored the urging of the UN Security Council," he said.
In a statement carried by IRNA on Friday, Bahram Qasemi, Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman, said Tehran sees using such excuses for taking unilateral actions as dangerous, destructive and against the established principles of international law.
"We believe that such measures carried under the pretext of suspected chemical attacks in Khan Sheikhoun, whose timing, perpetrators and beneficiaries are in doubt, will strengthen the declining number of terrorists and add to the complexity of the situation in Syria and the region", Qasemi said.
The US attack came after the Syrian government denied using chemical weapons to attack Idlib.
"I stress, once again, that the Syrian Arab Army did not and will not use such weapons even against the terrorists who are targeting our people," Syria's Foreign Minister Walid Muallem told reporters in Damascus on Thursday.
According to Russia, the incident happened after a government shell hit a building where foreign-backed militants were stockpiling chemical weapons.
Qasemi said, "Iran, as the biggest victim of chemical weapons in contemporary history, condemns any use of these weapons regardless of its perpetrators and victims," referencing it to the use of chemical weapons by former Iraqi dictator, Saddam Hussein, during the 1980-88 Iraq-imposed war.
***Damage to US-Russia Relations
Russia strongly condemned the strikes, saying these were carried out under "far-fetched pretexts" and Washington's action would "inflict major damage on US-Russia ties", according to a Kremlin statement on Friday carried by Russian news agencies.
The Kremlin said Russian President Vladimir Putin believes that the US strikes were an "aggression against a sovereign state in violation of international law."
It said the US has ignored past incidents of the use of chemical weapons by Syrian militants, adding that the Syrian government has destroyed its chemical weapons stockpiles under international monitoring.
The Russian Foreign Ministry said on Friday Moscow had suspended a memorandum with the US to prevent incidents and ensure flight safety.
The Pentagon said Russia had been notified ahead of the operation, but US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Washington had "sought no approval from Moscow."
Turkey welcomed the US missile strike, saying it was an "important and meaningful" development, but called for a continued tough stance against Syrian President Bashar Assad that would render him "no longer able to harm his people."
Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus said in a live television interview on Friday that the Assad government is punished by the international community.
" Iran and Russia are supporters of the Syrian government, while Turkey is a major supplier of arms to militants.
***Iran, Russia Will Respond
Alaeddin Boroujerdi, the chairman of Majlis National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, told ICANA on Friday the allegation that the Syrian government was behind the Idlib attacks was baseless, as the Syrian Army needed no chemical attack on an area located far from battlefields.
"Besides, the use of chemical weapons comes when an army feels it is being defeated, this is while the Syrian Army is in an excellent position, and has liberated Aleppo and is retaking other areas, too," he said.
Boroujerdi warned that the "unwise" US move will bear serious consequences, "as countries such as Russia and Iran will not stay silent regarding such moves against the interests of the region".
While Friday's strike was the first direct US military action against Syrian forces, fighter jets by a US-led coalition last year killed dozens of Syrian troops after being "misidentified" as fighters of the self-styled Islamic State terrorist group, according to the US Army.