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Russian expert comments on Western strikes against Syria

An expert believes the US-led coalition's strikes affect the Astana peace process

MOSCOW, April 16. /TASS/. The missile strikes on Syria by the US, France and Great Britain have managed to drive a wedge between the Astana process guarantors - Russia, Turkey and Iran, said Science Director of the Institute of Oriental Studies at the Russian Academy of Science Vitaly Naumkin, who is also a Valdai International Discussion Club expert. He pointed out that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had supported the attack.

"The three-member coalition has partially achieved one of its goals by driving a wedge between Russia, Turkey and Iran. The Turkish authorities predictably supported the strikes on targets in Syria," the expert said.

According to Naumkin, the Astana process guarantors initially had different views on ways to resolve the Syrian situation but Russia was able to keep the group together. "There are differences in the three countries’ positions on the Syria issue and it was impossible to hide even before the attack. Their ongoing cooperation as guarantor countries despite those disagreements stemmed from Moscow’s efforts, as it skillfully handled dangerous issues using diplomatic means and the huge potential of bilateral relations," the expert noted.

He also said that the Syrian conflict was far from being resolved but there was no military solution to it. "The issue has not been closed yet, as well as everything that surrounds it. However, unilateral use of military force cannot bring closer the day when a solution is found," Naumkin concluded.

Missile attack on Syria

According to the Russian Defense Ministry, the missile attack on Syria’s military and civilian infrastructure facilities was carried out by US warplanes and naval ships in cooperation with British and French on Saturday. The Syrian air defenses managed to shoot down 71 out of 103 missiles fired by the United States and its allies.

Earlier, the US, Great Britain and France claimed the strikes had been conducted in response to an alleged chemical weapons attack in Douma, a suburb of the Syrian capital.

Washington, London and Paris claimed the strikes to be a response to a chemical weapons attack, which had allegedly happened in the Syrian town of Douma on April 7. Reports about the incident had been spread by a number of non-government organizations, including the White Helmets.

The Russian Foreign Ministry slammed those allegations as a bogus story, while Russia’s Defense Ministry pointed out that the White Helmets were not a reliable source of information as they were known for spreading fabricated news.

On April 9, officers from the Russian Center for Reconciliation of the opposing sides in Syria visited Douma but did not find any traces of chemical weapons.