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Syrian diplomat welcomes suspension of Russian-US memorandum on aviation safety

MOSCOW, April 10. /TASS/. Russia made a right decision to suspend the aviation safety memorandum with the United States, Syrian Ambassador to Moscow Riyad Haddad said.

"I believe it to be a right step because Russia is the main ally of Syria’s legitimate government and a guarantor of international law," he said. "Russia has been playing an invaluable role in the fight against international terrorism, so if the US-led coalition targets the army that has been combatting the forces of terrorism, then it is a right step to protect your ally," Haddad said in an interview with Russia’s Izvestia daily.

On April 7, at the direction of US President Donald Trump, the US forces fired 59 Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles (TLAM) on a Syrian military air base located in the Homs Governorate. The attack came as a response to the alleged use of chemical weapons in the Idlib Governorate on April 4. The US authorities believe that the airstrike on Idlib was launched from that air base.

The Russian and Syrian militaries denied their involvement in the attack. Russia’s Defense Ministry later said that on April 4, the Syrian air force had delivered an airstrike on the eastern outskirts of Khan Shaykhun to destroy militant facilities used to produce chemical bombs. These bombs were sent to Iraq and were previously used in Aleppo.

Russian Presidential Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that Moscow considered this attack to be an act of aggression against a sovereign state. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, in turn, said that the aggression was carried out under a false pretext.

Following the attack, Russia’s Defense Ministry suspended cooperation with the US military aimed at the implementation of the memorandum on aviation safety in Syria’s airspace.

The Memorandum, drawn up in October 2015, contains a number of rules and restrictions which aim at preventing dangerous encounters between the Russian and US warplanes. In accordance with the document, the two countries set up 24-hour communications channels and outlined a mechanism for cooperation, particularly stipulating mutual assistance in crisis situations.

Pentagon said earlier that the memorandum did not envisage providing Moscow with information about targets in Syria.