Russian President Vladimir Putin sees the U.S. strikes on a military airfield in Syria as an attempt to divert the international community’s attention from casualties amongst Iraqi civilians, stated Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov on Friday.
The U.S. decision to use military force in Syria, said Peskov, is causing significant damage to Russian-American relations, which were already “in a deplorable state.”
“Most importantly, believes Putin, this step does not bring us closer to [achieving our] ultimate goal of fighting international terrorism, but rather presents a serious obstacle to the creation of an international coalition to combat [terrorism] and to efficiently counteract this universal evil,” Peskov said.
Putin believes, his spokesman said, that the U.S. airstrike was an act of “aggression against a sovereign state in violation of international law [done] under a far-fetched pretext.”
Syria, stressed Peskov, has no chemical weapons, as the fact of their destruction was noted by international inspectors.
On the morning of April 7, the United States struck a blow at the Syrian government airbase of Shayrat in Homs province, firing 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles from two U.S. Navy warships in the Mediterranean Sea.
The Shayrat airbase, said the United States, is the home of the airplanes that participated in the chemical attack launched in the province of Idlib on April 4.
“We are assessing the results of the strike. Initial indications are that this strike has severely damaged or destroyed Syrian aircraft and support infrastructure and equipment at Shayrat Airfield, reducing the Syrian Government’s ability to deliver chemical weapons. The use of chemical weapons against innocent people will not be tolerated,” said Pentagon spokesman Navy Capt. Jeff Davis. Damascus categorically denies using chemical weapons in Idlib.
The airstrike on the Shayrat base became the first case of U.S. use of military force against Syrian government forces since the beginning of the country’s civil war in 2011. U.S. President Donald Trump said that the strike was in the “vital national security interest” of the United States.
President Trump also called on “all civilized nations to join us in seeking to end the slaughter and bloodshed in Syria.”
The U.S. military had given Russia’s Defense Ministry advance warning of its plans to strike at the Shayrat airbase, said Pentagon spokesman Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, stressing that “U.S. military planners took precautions to minimize risk to Russian or Syrian personnel located at the airfield.”