At UN Security Council, Russia demands condemnation of ‘aggression’ in Syria
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At UN Security Council, Russia demands condemnation of ‘aggression’ in Syria

Moscow calls emergency session after airstrikes by US, Britain, France; London says military action 'both right and legal'

The UN Security Council meets on April 14, 2018, at UN Headquarters in New York. (AFP/HECTOR RETAMAL)
The UN Security Council meets on April 14, 2018, at UN Headquarters in New York. (AFP/HECTOR RETAMAL)

UNITED NATIONS, New York — Russia on Saturday asked the UN Security Council to condemn the “aggression” against Syria from military strikes carried out by the United States, Britain, and France, according to a draft resolution seen by AFP.

Russia circulated the measure ahead of a Security Council meeting to discuss the military operation by the three allies in response to an alleged chemical weapons attack.

The draft text “condemns the aggression against the Syrian Arab Republic by the US and its allies in violation of international law and the UN Charter.”

It “demands that the US and its allies immediately and without delay cease the aggression against the Syrian Arab republic and demands also to refrain from any further use of force in violation of international law and the UN charter.”

Earlier Saturday, Russian President Vladimir Putin used the same language to denounce the strikes, calling them an “act of aggression” that will exacerbate humanitarian catastrophe in Syria.

In a statement issued by the Kremlin, the Russian leader called for an emergency Security Council meeting and said the strikes had a “destructive influence on the entire system of international relations.” He reaffirmed Russia’s view that a purported chemical attack in the Syrian town of Douma that prompted the strike was fake.

Putin added that Russian military experts who inspected Douma found no trace of the attack. He criticized the US and its allies for launching the strikes without waiting for inspectors from the international chemical weapons watchdog to visit the area.

Britain’s UN ambassador on Saturday defended the military action against Syria, saying it was “both right and legal” to launch strikes to alleviate humanitarian suffering.

“The United Kingdom believes that it was both right and legal to take military action together with our closest allies to alleviate further humanitarian suffering,” British Ambassador Karen Pierce told reporters ahead of the Security Council meeting.

The strikes carried out by the United States, Britain and France were aimed at “degrading the Syrian regime’s capability and deterring the use of chemical weapons,” she said.

At a council meeting on Friday, the United States, Britain and France made the case for military action, arguing that Syrian President Bashar Assad’s forces had used toxic gases multiple times in violation of international law.

Russia countered that the US-led action was aimed at overthrowing Assad and keeping Moscow’s influence in check.

Meanwhile, Russia’s defense ministry said Saturday the Western strikes claimed no victims among Syrian civilians or military.

“According to preliminary information, there were no victims among peaceful civilians and the Syrian military,” senior military officer Sergei Rudskoi said at a briefing in Moscow.

The Russian military said that 103 cruise missiles were fired including Tomahawk missiles, but that Syrian air defense systems managed to intercept 71 cruise missiles. The Pentagon on Saturday said all the targets in Syria were successfully hit and there were no interceptions.

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