Assad regime’s allies said that the US strikes against Syrian airbase on Friday crossed “red lines” and they would respond to any new aggression, vowing to continue the fight against “terrorists” and their supporters in Syria.
In a sharp escalation of the U.S. military role in Syria, two U.S. warships fired dozens of cruise missiles from the eastern Mediterranean Sea at the airbase controlled by Assad regime forces in response to the deadly poison gas attack in a rebel-held area on Tuesday, U.S. officials said.
Fifty-nine Tomahawk missiles were launched from the USS Porter and USS Ross around 8:40 p.m. EDT, striking multiple targets – including the airstrip, aircraft and fuel stations – on the Shayrat Air Base, which the Pentagon says was used to store chemical weapons.
Trump ordered the strikes just a day after he pointed the finger at Assad for this week’s chemical attack.
“Tonight I ordered a targeted military strike on the airfield in Syria from where the chemical attack was launched.”
“Years of previous attempts at changing Assad’s behavior have all failed and failed very dramatically,” Trump said on Thursday.
Russia condemned the strikes, saying Washington’s action would “inflict major damage on US-Russia ties”, according to Russian news agencies.
Iran said it strongly condemned the missile strikes against the Syrian army’s Shayrat air base, saying that “such measures will strengthen terrorists in Syria … and it will complicate the situation in Syria and the region.”
Crossing red lines
The Syria-based joint operations room for government backers Russia, Iran and allied forces including Lebanon’s Hezbollah, said on Sunday the attack crossed “red lines” and it would respond to any new aggression and increase its support for its ally.
“What America waged in an aggression on Syria is a crossing of red lines. From now on we will respond with force to any aggressor or any breach of red lines from whoever it is and America knows our ability to respond well,” said the statement published by the group on media outlet Ilam al Harbi (War Media).
The statement also accused the US of acting before any investigation into the suspected chemical attack was conducted and did not wait for any UN approval.
“We, as Syria’s allies, will increase our military support toward Syria and support its people in many other ways,” the statement said.
“We condemn any attack targeting civilians and also condemn what happened in Khan Sheikhoun, even if we are convinced it was a premeditated act by certain countries and organizations to serve as a pretext to attack Syria,” Sunday’s statement added.
In Iran, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said the U.S. missile strike was “a strategic error, and a repeat of the mistakes of the past,” the state news agency IRNA reported.
“The Islamic Republic has shown that … it does not back off and its people and officials … do not retreat in the face of threats,” said Khamenei.
Fight against terrorism
In addition, the army chiefs of Russia and Iran have vowed to continue the fight against “terrorists” and their supporters in Syria.
Speaking by phone on Saturday, Major General Mohammad Bagheri of Iran and General Valery Gerasimov of Russia “condemned the American operation against a Syrian airbase which is an aggression against an independent country”, Iran’s state news agency IRNA reported.
The US strikes “aim at slowing the victories of the Syrian army and its allies, and reinforcing terrorist groups”, the two chiefs of staff said in a statement.
They vowed to continue their military cooperation in support of Bashar al-Assad “until the total defeat of the terrorists and those that support them”, according to the Mehr news agency.
Iran and Russia are Assad’s closest allies and label all opponents of his government as “terrorists”.
Earlier in the day, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani criticized his US counterpart Donald Trump for the missile attack the US launched in retaliation.
“This man who is now in office in America claimed that he wanted to fight terrorism but today all terrorists in Syria are celebrating the US attack,” he said.
Also on Saturday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov spoke over the phone with his US counterpart Rex Tillerson, just days ahead of the latter’s scheduled visit to Moscow.
Lavrov said the US “attack on a country whose government fights terrorism only plays into the hands of extremists, [and] creates additional threats to regional and global security,” according to a statement put out by the Russian foreign ministry.
The Syrian crisis began as a peaceful demonstration against the injustice in Syria. Assad regime used to fire power and violence against the civilians and led to armed resistance. 450.000 Syrians lost their lives in the past five years according to UN estimates, and more than 12 million have lost their homes.