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14 Apr, 2018 07:25

US-led strikes on Syria likely aimed at thwarting OPCW probe into ‘chemical attack’– Russian senator

US-led strikes on Syria likely aimed at thwarting OPCW probe into ‘chemical attack’– Russian senator

The US-led strikes on Syria are "a blatant violation of international law" and may be aimed at thwarting an OPCW probe into the alleged chemical attack in Douma, a top Russian senator says.

The offensive in retaliation to the alleged chemical attack in Douma on April 7 came just hours before the UN's Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) experts were scheduled to visit the site on Saturday to determine whether chemical weapons had been used there last week.

"It's most probably an attempt to create difficulties for the OPCW mission that is just starting its work in Ghouta today, or even to thwart it," the chair of Russia's Foreign Affairs Committee of the Federation Council, Konstantin Kosachev, said. Kosachev stressed that for a detailed assessment and understanding of the situation, it is necessary to wait for the defense ministry's reaction: "What we need is not emotions, but a professional assessment of the military experts working on the ground."

However, there can only be one political assessment, Kochashev said. "It is a blatant violation of international law, and an attack on a sovereign state without any proper reason. Additionally, it's an attempt to create [more] difficulties in Douma."

His thoughts were echoed by Andrey Krasov, the first deputy of the Defense Committee of the Russian lower house of parliament, who said the US-led coalition’s actions in Syria amount to a war crime.

"A war crime was committed by the one who gave the order to launch missile strikes, and those who directly carried out this criminal order. These criminal acts should be condemned by the entire world community because these actions were carried out without a UN Security Council resolution," Krasov told RIA Novosti on Saturday.

Another Russian senator, Vladimir Dzhabarov, said on Saturday that it is likely that Moscow would call for a meeting of the UN Security Council to discuss US, British, and French air strikes on Syria.

US General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters that the Russian military operating in Syria was not notified about the Pentagon targets in advance. The US "specifically identified" targets to "mitigate the risk of Russian forces being involved," Dunford said. "We did do not do any coordination with the Russians on the strikes, nor did we pre-notify them."

The Russian Ministry of Defense says that a large number of the missiles were successfully intercepted by the Syrian Air Defense.