Syria's allies say airstrikes undercut political resolution
The leaders of Russia, Iran and the Hezbollah group in Lebanon said yesterday that Western airstrikes on their ally, Syria, have complicated prospects for a political settlement to the country's seven-year conflict.
A day after the US, Britain and France bombarded sites they said were linked to a chemical weapons programme, Syrian President Bashar Assad appeared briefly on state TV, seemingly unfazed by the military action - and even reportedly in high spirits.
He told a group of visiting Russian lawmakers that the strikes were accompanied by a campaign of "lies and mis-information" against Syria and Russia in the UN Security Council.
Moscow and Damascus are waging the same "battles" against terrorism and "to protect international law based on respect of the sovereignty of countries and the wills of people," Assad said in comments carried by state media, an apparent jab at the three Western allies.
Russian lawmaker Dmitry Sablin, who met with Assad, said he appeared upbeat and believed the airstrikes would unify the country.
Russia and Iran have called the action a "military crime" and "act of aggression". The UN Security Council rejected a Russian resolution calling for condemnation of the "aggression" by the US, France and Britain.
Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke by phone with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, and they agreed the Western airstrikes were an "illegal action ... adversely impacting prospects for political settlement in Syria," a Kremlin statement said.