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UN to meet today to discuss US strike on Syria

Representative image. Photograph: (Reuters)

AFP Moscow, Russia Apr 07, 2017, 11.57 AM (IST)

The UN's security council will meet today to discuss the US missile strikes on Syria, US diplomats said.

Russia's military on Friday said a US strike on a regime air base in Syria was ineffective but announced Syrian air defences would be strengthened to shield the country's key infrastructure.

WATCH VIDEO: Trump launches military strike against Syria

"To protect Syria's most sensitive infrastructure, complex measures will be implemented in the near future to strengthen and improve the effectiveness of the Syrian armed forces' air defence system," defence ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said in a statement.

He added the strike had had an "extremely low" military impact, and fewer than half of the 59 reported US missiles had actually found their target.

"Only 23 missiles reached the Syrian airbase," he said.

The strike on the Shayrat airbase, ordered by US President Donald Trump, destroyed six planes under repair and several buildings, including a storage depot and radio station, he said.

"The runway, taxiways and Syrian Airforce planes at parking spaces are not damaged," he said. 

"The military effectiveness of the massive US missile strike on the Syrian airbase is therefore extremely low."

Separately, the Russian state channel Rossiya24, in a report from the base, said nine planes, as well as munition and fuel depots, had been destroyed but the facility's runway was intact.

Konashenkov's statement said the attack was a "gross violation" of a US-Russian memorandum aimed at avoiding clashes over Syria.

Moscow announced earlier it was halting the deal reached in 2015 in response to the strike, despite Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov confirming the US side had warned Russia of the impending attack through the channels it had established. 

Trump ordered the strike - Washington's first direct military action against President Bashar Assad's government - in response to what he called a "barbaric" chemical attack this week that he blamed on Damascus.  

Moscow has been flying a bombing campaign in support of Syrian forces since September 2015 and has sought to deflect blame from its ally over the alleged chemical attack. 

Meanwhile, Turkey welcomed a US missile strike on a Syrian regime airbase in retaliation for a suspected chemical attack and called for a no-fly zone in the country to prevent further bloodshed.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said the strike against the Sharyat airbase in Homs, northern Syria, was "a positive response" to the "war crimes" of the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.

"In order to prevent similar massacres from happening again, it is necessary to enforce a no-fly zone and create safe zones in Syria without further delay," he added in a statement.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said safe zones in Syria were "now important more than ever".

Kalin said: "The destruction of the Sharyat airbase marks an important step to ensure that chemical and conventional attacks against the civilian population do not go unpunished."


The missiles were launched from two ships, the USS Porter and the USS Ross, in the eastern Mediterranean Sea (WION)



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