(The Independent newspaper) Russian President Vladimir Putin has condemned US cruise missile strikes on a Syrian government military target, saying they broke international law and have seriously damaged US-Russia relations.

The Kremlin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Mr Putin, a staunch ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, viewed the action taken by Donald Trump as an “act of aggression” against a sovereign state on a “made-up pretext” to distract the world from civilian deaths in Iraq.

“Putin views the US strikes on Syria as aggression against a sovereign state in violation of the norms of international law and on a made-up up pretext. Washington’s step will inflict major damage on US-Russia ties,” Mr Peskov was cited as saying.

He added that Russia did not believe Syria possessed chemical weapons and that the air strikes would inevitably create a serious obstacle to creating an international coalition to fight terrorism.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov meanwhile said Moscow would demand an explanation from the US over the air strikes.

Speaking at a news conference in Tashkent, Uzbekistane, Mr Lavrov described the attack as “an act of aggression with an invented pretext”, adding that he hoped the “provocation” would not lead to irreparable damage to Russia’s ties with the US.

Mr Trump ordered the firing of 59 cruise missiles at a military target in Syria on Thursday in a swift retaliatory blow for Mr al-Assad’s alleged use of chemical weapons on civilians in rebel-held town Idlib earlier this week.

The Syrian army said the attack on the Syrian airbase has killed six and led to big material losses. Russia’s embassy in Damascus said on Friday it has no information yet on whether Russian citizens were hurt as a result of the missile strikes but was looking into the issue, according to the RIA news agency.

The White House described the cruise missile strikes launched from US ships in the Mediterranean as a “warning shot” that was “necessary and appropriate” after the alleged chemical weapons attack.

The British government has said it “fully supports” the US in carrying out an air strike on a Syrian government military target, describing the cruise missile strikes launched from US ships in the Mediterranean as a “warning shot” that was “necessary and appropriate”.


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