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Syria's allies say airstrikes undercut political resolution

AP  |  Damascus 

The leaders of Russia, and the group in said today that Western airstrikes on their ally, Syria, have complicated prospects for a political settlement to the country's seven-year conflict.

A day after the US, Britain and bombarded sites they said were linked to a program, Syrian appeared briefly on state TV, seemingly unfazed by the military action and even reportedly in high spirits.

He told a group of visiting Russian lawmakers that the strikes were accompanied by a campaign of "lies and misinformation" against and in the

and are waging the same "battles" against terrorism and "to protect international law based on respect of the sovereignty of countries and the wills of people," Assad said in comments carried by state media, an apparent jab at the three Western allies.

Russian lawmaker Dmitry Sablin, who met with Assad, said he appeared upbeat and believed the airstrikes would unify the country.

and have called the action a "military crime" and "act of aggression." The rejected a Russian resolution calling for condemnation of the "aggression" by the US, and Britain.

Russian spoke by phone with Iranian Hassan Rouhani, and they agreed the Western airstrikes were an "illegal action ... adversely impacting prospects for political settlement in Syria," a Kremlin statement said.

Putin said the actions violated the UN Charter and if they continue, "it will inevitably entail chaos in international relations," the statement said.

The official agency quoted Rouhani as saying The US and "some Western countries do not want to reach permanent stability." and should not allow the "fire of a new tension" to flare up in the region, Rouhani said, adding that the airstrikes were an "invasion" aimed at "emboldening defeated terrorists," reported.

Hassan Nasrallah, the of Lebanon's group that has hundreds of fighters backing Assad's forces, said the airstrikes failed to "terrorize or break the spirits" of and its allies.

Instead, he said, the attack bolstered the confidence of the and its allies, as well as probably sinking the already-faltering U.N.-backed peace process on Syria in

"If the goal was to pressure Syria to expedite a political solution, I think what happened will complicate the and will strain and the track, if not torpedo altogether," Nasrallah told an election rally in

Nasrallah said there is no in Syria, and he likened the attacks in Syria to the West's concern over Iran's nuclear program.

US Marine Kenneth F. McKenzie, at the Pentagon, said the allied airstrikes "took out the heart" of Assad's arsenal. When pressed, however, he acknowledged that some unspecified portion of Assad's was not targeted.

Assad denies he has used chemical weapons, and the US has yet to present evidence of what it says led to the allied action: a on civilians in Douma on April 7 that killed more than 40 people. The US says it suspects that also was used.

A team from the is in Syria to investigate the Douma incident and was expected to visit the town. Syrian Deputy met with members of the watchdog group in their hotel Sunday.

The government regained full control of Douma on Saturday following a surrender deal with the rebels in the town east of It later deployed another 5,000 security forces there.

Russian military police had been deployed in Douma, raising complaints from the Syrian opposition that evidence of chemical weapons use might no longer be found.

Douma was the last rebel holdout in the eastern Ghouta suburbs, the target of a government offensive in February and March that killed hundreds and displaced tens of thousands.

France, meanwhile, has reached out to Russia, urging it to join renewed peace efforts.

In an interview published Sunday in du Dimanche newspaper, French said "should join our efforts to promote a political process in Syria that would allow a way out of the crisis." French President was expected to strike a similar tone in a televised interview later Sunday.

has continued to talk regularly with Russia even as East-West tensions have grown. Macron spoke with Putin on Friday, hours before the Western missile strikes.

France and the say the Geneva process is the only track to pursue a political resolution. Russia has pursued a separate track for political negotiations, hosting talks in Sochi.

British told the he hopes there is no need for more strikes in Syria, but that Britain and its allies will consider further action if Assad uses chemical weapons again. He said the airstrikes were proportionate and showed "the world has said enough is enough.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Mon, April 16 2018. 00:50 IST
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