In his first major military action, President Donald Trump authorized on Thursday the launch of dozens of cruise missiles from two ships in the Mediterranean Sea against an airbase in Syria believed to be the site from which the recent suspected chemical attack on civilians had originated.
While much of the world cheered the punishing strike, staunch Syrian ally Russia was none too pleased, according to the U.K. Daily Express.
A spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin said Russia viewed the strike as an “aggression against a sovereign nation” based wholly upon a “made-up pretext.” Russia maintains that Syria did not drop toxic gas-filled bombs on civilians, but rather that regular bombs dropped on civilian areas happened to hit an illicit stockpile of chemicals held by rebels.
The spokesman further stated that the attack had damaged U.S.-Russian relations, which were already “in tatters,” and suggested that the strike had been planned prior to the chemical attack and placed on standby until such an attack could be used as a justification for the strike.
According to U.S. News & World Report, Russia has responded to the strike by cutting off the special hotline set up in 2015 to ensure that no midair incidents occurred between Russian aircraft and those of the U.S.-led coalition, the same hotline used by the U.S. to give the Russians a “heads-up” prior to the strike.
The Russian defense ministry also announced that it will immediately begin bolstering Syria’s air defense systems, most likely as a message that any similar strike against Syria in the future would be met with a violent reaction.
Unsurprisingly, Russia was joined in its denunciation of the strike against Syria by the Middle Eastern nation’s only other major ally, the Islamic Republic of Iran, according to Reuters.
Calling the strike “dangerous and destructive,” Iranian media outlet ISNA quoted a foreign ministry spokesman as saying, “Iran strongly condemns any such unilateral strikes … Such measures will strengthen terrorists in Syria … and will complicate the situation in Syria and the region.”
It remained to be seen if the remarks from Russia and Iran were understandable face-saving bluster or if they instead signaled a move toward escalation and possible retaliatory action either in the region or here at home.
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