Putin: Aggression by US and allies will worsen Syrian humanitarian catastrophe
Moscow has called for an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council.
Russian president Vladimir Putin has denounced an air strike on Syria by the United States and its allies as an “act of aggression” that will exacerbate the humanitarian catastrophe in the country.
In a statement issued by the Kremlin, the Russian leader said Moscow is calling an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council over the strike launched by the US, Britain and France.
Mr Putin added that the strike had a “destructive influence on the entire system of international relations”.
He reaffirmed Russia’s view that the 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 a chemical 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.
Meanwhile, the Russian military said Syria’s Soviet-made air defence systems have downed 71 out of 103 cruise missiles launched by the US and its allies.
Col Gen Sergei Rudskoi of the Russian military’s General Staff said Saturday’s strike has not caused any casualties, and Syrian military facilities targeted by the US, UK and France have suffered only minor damage.
He said the Russian air defence assets in Syria monitored the strike but did not engage any of the missiles.
Col Gen Rudskoi said the Syrian military used Soviet-era air defence missile systems with high efficiency, shooting down all of the missiles aimed at four key Syrian air bases.
He noted that Russia has in the past refrained from providing Syria with its state-of-the-art S-300 air defence missile systems at the insistence of the West, but could reconsider this decision now.