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Lavrov says aggressive US steps in Syria hamper search for peaceful solutions

On April 7, the US military fired a total of 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles on Syria’s Al Shayrat air base

MOSCOW, April 17. /TASS/. US missile strike on a military base in Syria has hindered the effort to reach a political settlement, and possibly, this has been done on purpose, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said after talks with his Senegalese counterpart Mankeur Ndiaye on Monday.

The sides discussed the growing terrorist threat on the African continent and in the world in general, Lavrov said. "We again stated the need to consolidate efforts of the entire international community in the fight against this universal evil, as Russian President Vladimir Putin said some 18 months ago addressing the UN General Assembly," he said.

Lavrov stressed that all steps here should be conducted on the basis of the international law and the United Nations Charter.

"In this context, we discussed the illegal and aggressive steps of US aviation when the strikes on an airbase in Syria were carried out, which only exacerbated the situation and hindered, maybe on purpose, the search for political settlement," Lavrov said.

On April 7, the US military fired a total of 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles from its warships in the Mediterranean Sea on Syria’s Al Shayrat air base located in the country’s province of Homs. The US attack on the Syrian government forces reportedly came in response to the alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria’s Idlib on April 4.

According to data from the Russian Defense Ministry, Syrian warplanes delivered an air strike on April 4 that hit workshops where terrorists were producing munitions with chemical agents supplied to Iraq and used in Aleppo. However, Washington concluded that Damascus had used chemical weapons.

Russia to demand explanation on OPCW investigation

On Monday, Moscow will demand an explanation on the investigation into the alleged chemical weapons attack in Syria, which is conducted by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), Lavrov said.

"British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson recently put the blame on the Syrian government, as well as on Russia and Iran who support Damascus, but failed to provide any evidence only saying that British experts had already studied the samples collected on the scene and had come to the conclusion that sarin or some similar substances had been used," the Russian foreign minister pointed out. "It is an interesting coincidence that the British representatives heading the fact finding mission did not say anything to anyone but British experts were able to study the samples," he added.

"Today we will file a request demanding an explanation on what is going on," Lavrov said. "I expect that there will be an answer. The situation is not easy but let us hope that the majority of countries understand what is happening. We will not allow anyone to disrupt efforts aimed at settling the Syrian crisis based on the United Nations Security Council Resolution," the Russian top diplomat added.

'The pace should not be lost'

The pace of organizing a new round of negotiations in Geneva on the Syrian peace process should not be lost, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Monday.

"As for the upcoming meeting on Syria in Geneva, it is planned for a period after May 3-4, that is, after a new round of talks in Astana," Lavrov said.

"We hope that UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura will find an appropriate date because some hints have started to emerge that the holy month of Ramadan is beginning in late May" and perhaps it should be appropriate to wait until it is over, the Russian foreign minister said.

"We are convinced that the pace should not be lost," Russia’s top diplomat said.

"Especially in the situation when this political process has become endangered," he added.

"I mean the strike against the Shayrat aerodrome and also the desire of many actors both inside Syria and from among the external opposition to exploit this situation to switch the blame fully to the Assad regime and take up a course of a departure from the political settlement to unilateral actions for overthrowing the Syrian government," the Russian foreign minister said.