RUSSIA has accused the US and Donald Trump of plotting its missile strike on a Syrian airbase days before the deadly chemical weapons attack which killed 70 people.
A staunch ally of President Bashar al-Assad, Russian leader Vladimir Putin said he regarded the US action as “aggression against a sovereign nation” on a “made-up pretext”.
And he savaged the “cynical attempt” to distract the world from civilian deaths in Iraq, according to spokesman Dmitry Peskov.
Just hours after the strikes, he announced the attacks had seriously damaged ties between Washington and Moscow – which a spokesman claims was already “in tatters”.
Adding the missile strike broke international law, Russia’s foreign ministry also said it was “obvious” that the US strikes had been prepared before the chemical attack.
Two US warships fired 59 cruise missiles from the eastern Mediterranean Sea at the Syrian airbase today following a poison gas attack in a rebel-held area on Tuesday.
At least 70 people, many of them children, were killed in the chemical attack in the Syrian town of Khan Sheikhoun – but the Syrian government has denied it was behind the atrocity.
Now the US has launched its toughest direct action so far during Syria’s six-year-old civil war.
And the move has left Donald Trump facing his biggest foreign policy crisis since his inauguration, further heightening tension with Russia and Iran.
Announcing the attack, President Trump said: “Years of previous attempts at changing Assad’s behaviour have all failed and failed very dramatically.”
US officials said they informed Russian forces ahead of the missile attacks and took great pains to avoid hitting Russian troops at the base.
But Russian strongman Vladimir Putin has lashed out at the controversial decision – which Trump claims were in America’s “vital national security interest”.
Kremlin and pro-Kremlin lawmakers have since suggested the missile launch had dealt a significant blow to any hopes of doing business with Trump.
Mr Peskov said: ”Putin views the U.S. strikes on Syria as aggression against a sovereign state in violation of the norms of international law and on a made-up up pretext.
“Washington’s step will inflict major damage on US-Russia ties.”
He added Russia did not believe that Syria possessed chemical weapons and that the move would cause a serious obstacle to creating an international coalition to fight terrorism.
Russia is now expected to call for an urgent meeting of the UN Security Council to discuss the matter.
Iran also denounced the “destructive and dangerous” strike; the Students News Agency ISNA quoted a Foreign Ministry spokesman as saying.
The spokesman added: ”Iran strongly condemns any such unilateral strikes, such measures will strengthen terrorists in Syria … and will complicate the situation in Syria and the region.”
However Britain gave its backing to the military action in the beleaguered region.
A government spokesman said: “The UK government fully supports the U.S. action, which we believe was an appropriate response to the barbaric chemical weapons attack launched by the Syrian regime and is intended to deter further attacks.”