- Title: Russia's Lavrov says hopes Syria strikes won't irreparably hurt US ties
- Date: 7th April 2017
- Summary: TASHKENT, UZBEKISTAN (APRIL 7, 2017) (REUTERS) VIEW OF TASHKENT
- Embargoed: 21st April 2017 11:40
- Keywords: Russia Mideast crisis U.S. missile strikes Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov reaction Syria
- Location: TASHKENT, UZBEKISTAN
- City: TASHKENT, UZBEKISTAN
- Country: Uzbekistan
- Topics: Conflicts/War/Peace,International/National Security
- Reuters ID: LVA0036BEGUH3
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: PLEASE NOTE: VIDEO AND AUDIO QUALITY AS INCOMING
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Friday (April 7) he hoped U.S. missile strikes on Syria would not irreparably damage already frayed relations between Moscow and Washington.
U.S. officials said they had informed Russian forces ahead of the strikes - intended to punish the Syrian government for what they say was a chemical weapon attack earlier this week - and had avoided hitting Russian personnel.
"This is an act of aggression, (committed) on an absolutely made-up pretext," Lavrov told a news conference in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. "It reminds me of the situation in 2003 when the United State and Britain, along with some of their allies invaded Iraq."
He said Russia would demand Washington explain why it conducted the strikes.
The Kremlin says Washington's allegations that the Syrian army possesses and used chemical weapons are flat out wrong and accuses the West of ignoring rebel use of such weapons.
It says scores of Syrians were killed by poison gas on Tuesday (April 4) because the Syrian air forces had struck a militant bomb-making factory which it said contained chemical weapons procured in Iraq.
"There are reasons to believe that the territory in Idlib province which was hit was the under control of the very same members of al-Nusra (Front) who had their troops, armour and weapons deployed in the area, and as we've learned there was a factory there where explosive devices were stuffed with poisonous chemicals," said Lavrov.
"We have presented these facts. We have not said that these were the ultimate facts, we've just said that that was the information we possessed and demanded to immediately dispatch experts from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons to the region where this incident took place, so they could see for themselves what's had happened."
Western countries have dismissed this version of events and say Syrian planes dropped the gas, which Bashar al-Assad denies.
No Russian servicemen were known to have been killed in the U.S. strikes, he added.
Rex Tillerson is due to make his first visit to Moscow next week as U.S. secretary of state, an eagerly awaited event in Russia where politicians have been anxious to try to use the change of administration to reboot relations.
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