Politics Russia beefs up Syrian air defences after calling US strike 'a significant blow to Russian-American relations'

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A spokesman said President Vladimir Putin saw the attack as "aggression against a sovereign state in violation of international law, and under a false pretext."

Russian President Vladimir Putin at a news conference in St. Petersburg, Russia, on Monday. play

Russian President Vladimir Putin at a news conference in St. Petersburg, Russia, on Monday.

(AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky, Pool)
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The Kremlin has condemned the US cruise-missile strike on Syrian government forces as an "aggression against a foreign state," saying it broke international law.

Russia, which has sought to bolster Syrian President Bashar Assad during Syria's civil war, reportedly redirected a ship armed with cruise missiles to the eastern Mediterranean Sea on Friday. It will stop at the Tartus logistics base in Syria, the TASS Russian news agency said.

The ship was on a routine voyage, taking part in a joint exercise with Turkish ships in the Black Sea.

The ship's presence off Syria's coast will depend on the situation, according to TASS sources, one of whom said "in any way it will last more than a month."

The Russian Defence Ministry also announced on Friday that Syrian air defenses would be beefed up, and it said the effectiveness of the US strikes was "extremely low," saying 23 missiles had hit their targets but it was unclear where 36 others had landed, Reuters reports.

Russia has reportedly informed the US that it intends to suspend the deconfliction channel between the two powers, according to Reuters.

Russian President Vladimir Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov on Friday morning said the Russian president saw the attack as an "aggression against a sovereign state in violation of international law, and under a false pretext," The Guardian reports.

Peskov also said Syria had no chemical weapons and the strikes "struck a significant blow to Russian-American relations, which were already in a sorry state."

"Washington's step will inflict major damage on US-Russia ties."

He also said Putin thought the strike was an attempt to distract from civilian deaths in Iraq, according to Reuters.

Russia has also halted its deal with the US to avoid clashes in the Syrian airspace as a response to the strike, AFP reports.

The Russian navy frigate Admiral Grigorovich in the Bosphorus on its way to the Mediterranean Sea, in Istanbul on November 4. play

The Russian navy frigate Admiral Grigorovich in the Bosphorus on its way to the Mediterranean Sea, in Istanbul on November 4.

(REUTERS/Murad Sezer)

US President Donald Trump, initially resistant to the idea of becoming involved in Syria, said Thursday night, "It is in the vital national security interest of the United States to prevent and deter the spread and use of deadly chemical weapons."

Russia has now called for an urgent meeting of the UN Security Council to discuss the matter, Viktor Ozerov, the head of the upper house of parliament's defense and security committee, said, according to Reuters.

Russia was informed of the attack before the strikes, Pentagon spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis said in a statement: "Russian forces were notified in advance of the strike using the established deconfliction line. US military planners took precautions to minimize risk to Russian or Syrian personnel located at the airfield."

Reports have suggested no Russian citizens were hurt in the attack.

The US Navy guided-missile destroyer USS Porter conducting strike operations from the Mediterranean Sea that the Defense Department said was a part of cruise-missile strike against Syria on Friday. play

The US Navy guided-missile destroyer USS Porter conducting strike operations from the Mediterranean Sea that the Defense Department said was a part of cruise-missile strike against Syria on Friday.

(Reuters)

"I fear that with these approaches the hoped-for US-Russian antiterrorism coalition in Syria ... is breathing its last before it is even born."

The Syrian army accused the US of "blatant aggression" and said the strike killed six people and caused "big material losses." The army also said it would respond by continuing to "crush terrorism."

The Syrian opposition welcomed the strikes: "We hope for the continuation of the strikes in order to prevent the regime from using its planes to launch any new air raids or going back to using internationally banned weapons," Ahmad Ramadan, the head of the media office of the Syrian National Coalition political opposition group, told Reuters.

Hasan Haj Ali, the commander of the Free Idlib Army rebel group, which fights under the Free Syrian Army umbrella, told Reuters the strikes came at a "very important phase" and showed that "there is still humanity in this world."

Before the strikes, Russia's deputy UN envoy, Vladimir Safronkov, warned of "negative consequences" if the US carried out military strikes on Syria, according to Reuters.

Asked what those negative consequences could be, Safronkov said, "Look at Iraq, look at Libya."