Russia Vows to Help Syria Rebuild Air Defenses After US Missile Strike

Posted: Apr 07, 2017 4:53 AM

Update: The Russian military said it will help Syria strengthen its air defenses after the U.S. strike. 

Update: Russia also announced that in response to the missile strikes on the Syrian air base, it is suspending a deal with the U.S. to prevent mid-air collisions over the country. 

Under the memorandum, signed after Russia launched an air campaign in Syria in September 2015, Russia and the US had exchanged information about their flights to avoid incidents in the crowded skies over Syria — where Russia has several dozen warplanes and batteries of air-defense missiles.

"The very presence of US troops and other countries on the territory of Syria, without the consent of the Government or the decision of the UN Security Council is a gross, obvious and unwarranted violation of international law," read a statement from the Russian Foreign Ministry. 

"If before it was due to the task of combating terrorism, now there is a clear act of aggression against a sovereign Syria. US Actions taken today further destroy the Russian-American relations."

Original Post: Russian President Vladimir Putin said the U.S.’s airstrikes against a Syrian airfield violates international law.

President Trump ordered the launch of 59 Tomahawk missiles Thursday night against the Shayrat Airfield in Homs province, which is where it is believed the Syrian government fired the chemical weapons against civilians in Tuesday’s attack that killed at least 100 people.  

"President [Vladimir] Putin regards the US attacks on Syria as an aggression against a sovereign state in violation of the norms of international law, and under a trumped-up pretext at that," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Friday.

He also said the Russian leader views the airstrike as an attempt to distract from the number of civilian deaths in Iraq.

"Putin also sees the attacks on Syria by the US as an attempt to divert the international community's attention from the numerous casualties among civilians in Iraq,” he added.

And by ignoring terrorists’ use of chemical weapons, the U.S.’s act will only make the situation worse, the spokesman said.

"At the same time, in Putin's opinion, total disregard for the use of chemical weapons by terrorists only drastically aggravates the situation," Peskov said.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and national security advisor H.R. McMaster said they did not seek Russia’s permission for the airstrike, but did inform their military to prevent Russian casualties.

“Our target in this attack was not Russia," Tillerson said from Palm Beach Thursday night. "Our target was this airfield and the Syrian regime.”

While the military act doesn’t change U.S. policy toward Syria, he added, “it does demonstrate that President Trump is willing to act when governments and actors cross the line.”