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Politics

Top Russian, Iranian Generals Condemn U.S. Missile Strike

The top Russian and Iranian generals have condemned the U.S. missile strike against a Syrian military base and vowed to continue their fight against "terrorists," which they generally call opponents of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

The chief of the Russian General Staff, General Valery Gerasimov, and his Iranian counterpart, Major General Mohammad Bagheri, spoke by phone on April 8, Iranian state news agency IRNA reported.

According to the report, the generals "condemned the American operation against a Syrian air base, which is an aggression against an independent country."

Russia and mainly Shi'ite Iran are the main backers of Assad in the civil war against various rebel groups supported by the United States and Turkey.

In the past, Russia and Iran have labeled Assad's opponents as "terrorists."

On April 7, the United States launched a cruise-missile attack against Syria's Shayrat air base, which the U.S. military says was used to launch a nerve-gas attack on the town of Khan Sheikhoun on April 4, killing dozens of people.

The statement by the Iranian and Russian military chiefs echoed comments made by their countries' leaders in the hours after the U.S. strike.

The two generals said the missile strike was a "preplanned program" intended to slow gains by the Syrian military and to "strengthen the morale of terrorists and their supporters."

They also vowed to continue and intensify the fight agianst "Takfiri terrorists," which usually refers to Sunni Muslim extremists, including Islamic State (IS) militants.

Most U.S. allies have rallied around Washington in the aftermath of the suspected chemical-weapons attack and subsequent U.S. missile strike.

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said he had canceled a scheduled April 10 visit to Moscow as developments in Syria "have changed the situation fundamentally."

United Nations war crimes investigators have opened a probe into the chemical attack, with UN Syrian envoy Staffan de Mistura saying all indications were that "it was a chemical attack and it came from the air."

More than 320,000 people have been killed in Syria since the conflict began in March 2011 with a crackdown by Assad against antigovernment protesters.

Copyright (c) 2015. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036.


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