MOSCOW/LONDON:  Russian President Vladimir Putin on Saturday slammed the US and its allies for carrying out a military strike on Syria, saying that Washington was “increasingly exacerbating the humanitarian catastrophe in Syria” as he called for an immediate UN Security Council meeting to discuss the “aggressive action”.

“Russia strongly condemns the attack on Syria where Russian servicemen are helping the legitimate government in the war on terrorism,” the Kremlin press office quoted Putin as saying. “By its actions, the US is increasingly exacerbating the humanitarian catastrophe in Syria and actually conniving at terrorists who have been tormenting the Syrian people for seven years and provoking a new wave of refugees from that country and the region as a whole,” he said.

Putin said US used a “staged chemical attack” against civilians to carry out the Friday night strike. Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said that “the action against Syria came precisely at the moment when the country received a chance for a peaceful future”. The coordinated airstrikes in Syria were conducted by the US, France and the UK as American President Donald Trump sought to “punish” his Syrian counterpart Bashar al-Assad for an apparent chemical attack in Douma, Eastern Ghouta, last week that killed over 70 people. The latest strikes targeted three facilities associated with Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal, including a scientific research facility around Damascus, a chemical weapons storage facility around Homs alleged to be used for sarin gas and a nearby command post, according to the Pentagon. The Syrian Foreign Ministry called the joint airstrikes a “flagrant violation of international law and the principals of the UN charter”, according to the state-run Syrian Arab News Agency. “Syria calls on the international community to strongly condemn this aggression, which will lead to nothing but the igniting of tensions around the world and pose a threat to international peace and security as a whole,” the ministry said. IANS

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