April 14 (UPI) — Russian President Vladimir Putin and Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei have condemned strikes on Syria overnight from the U.S., Great Britain and France.
The U.S. and its allies launched the strikes over concerns that forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad carried out a chemical attack against civilians in the rebel-held town of Douma last weekend that killed more than 70 people, U.S. President Donald Trump said in an address to the nation Friday night.
Trump dedicated part of that speech to condemning Iran and Russia for aligning themselves with Assad’s government.
Khamenei countered on Twitter early Saturday by saying the U.S. and its allies were committing a crime.
“I firmly declare that the Presidents of U.S. and France and British PM committed a major crime,” he said. “They will gain no benefit; just as they did not while in Iraq, Syria & Afghanistan, over the past years, committing the same criminal acts.”
Putin similarly said the airstrikes violated international law and added Russia would convene an emergency session of the United Nations Security Council in response. The spokesperson for Sweden’s mission to the U.N. confirmed Saturday morning that an emergency meeting of the Security Council would be held at 11 a.m.
“Russia condemns in the strongest possible terms the attack against Syria, where Russian military personnel are assisting the legitimate government in its counterterrorism efforts,” Putin said in a statement.
Russia’s Ministry of Defense claimed Syria’s air defense systems intercepted 71 of the 103 missiles launched in the airstrikes. It said there have been no reports of civilian or military casualties. The U.S. has said the strikes targeted a research center in greater Damascus, a chemical weapons storage facility and another storage facility and command center, both in Homs.
Putin said Russian investigators have found no evidence of a chemical attack in Douma. He criticized the U.S, Britain and France for declining to wait until after a the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons completes its own investigation there. The organization has previously determined that chemical weapons have been used in Syria.
“An act of aggression against a sovereign state that is on the frontline in the fight against terrorism was committed without a mandate from the UN Security Council and in violation of the UN Charter and norms and principles of international law,” Putin said.