Russia ups ante by freezing communications with US in Syria

Miranda GreerApr 08, 2017

Medvedev, on social media, said the strikes were illegal and had been "one step away from military clashes with Russian Federation".

Tomahawk missiles fired from the USS Porter and USS Ross struck the airstrip, aircraft and fuel stations on the air base, which the Pentagon says was used to store chemical weapons.

A senior U.S. military official said the deconfliction line remained open as of noon Friday and had been used by United States and Russian officials since the USA strike on a Syrian regime airfield.

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev on Friday condemned the USA missile strike in Syria, saying it puts Moscow and Washington "on the verge of a military clash". Although they support opposing sides in the war between Assad and rebels, Washington and Moscow both say they share a single main enemy, Islamic State.

The U.S. strike reportedly killed at least seven people and is the first direct American assault against Assad's government. The hotline's primary intent is to ensure Russian planes conducting combat missions in Syria's skies don't stumble into an accident or confrontation with aircraft flown by the USA -led coalition fighting an Islamic State insurgency in the north of the country. It said it would cut the hotline that was established after Russian Federation joined Syria's civil war in 2015 to help Syrian President Bashar Assad's government against opposition groups. But opposition figures said an isolated assault was far from the decisive intervention they have long sought. And the Kremlin says Syria's government wasn't responsible.

President Trump authorized a missile launch into Syria late Thursday in response to a chemical attack earlier this week that USA and other Western officials believe was conducted by forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad.

The U.S. officials also said they're aware of Russians with chemical weapons expertise who have been in Syria.

Trump, speaking from Mar-a-Lago in West Palm Beach, Florida, said the strikes were "in the vital national security interest" of the U.S.

"This step by Washington inflicts considerable damage to US-Russia relations, which are already in a lamentable state", he said. Eliminating the hotline could enhance the risk of an accident involving the two nuclear powers.

They said a drone belonging either to Russian Federation or Syria was seen hovering over the site of the chemical weapons attack Tuesday after it happened. Russian Federation still has several dozen warplanes and batteries of air defense missiles at its base near Latakia, Syria.

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