The Russian government has suspended a key pact with the U.S. on airstrikes targeting Islamic State targets inside Syria, according to the Associated Press, in retaliation for U.S. missile strikes against the regime of Syrian dictator Bashar Assad.
The U.S. missile strikes, launched late Thursday night from two U.S. Navy destroyers in the Mediterranean Sea, were a response to a chemical weapon attack launched by the Syrian military against its own people earlier this week. The 59 Tomahawk missiles targeted a Syrian military airfield from which the chemical attack was believed to have originated.
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Russian government spokesman Dmitry Peskov called the U.S. missile strikes “aggression against a sovereign state in violation of international law” launched “under a far-fetched pretext.” He said "Washington’s move deals a significant blow to the Russia-U.S. relations, which are already in a deplorable shape.”
The suspended program, by which the U.S. and Russia exchange information about airstrike operations in Syria, had been in place since September, 2015.
Both the Syrian military and the Great Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights put the death toll for the U.S. military strikes at seven.
The Russian military, in its own statement, said it will aid Syria, a close ally, in bolstering its air defenses in the wake of the U.S. strike. A Russian military spokesman said “the combat efficiency of the U.S. strike was very low,” noting that six Syrian air force jets that were under repair were destroyed but other aircraft were not. The Russian spokesman said just 23 of the 59 U.S. missiles reached the targeted airbase.