Russia condemns 'act of aggression'

Russia condemns 'act of aggression'
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Russian officials on Friday condemned a U.S. strike against a Syrian airfield as an "act of aggression," saying that Moscow would freeze a military cooperation channel with Washington in Syria as a result.
 
The Kremlin said Russian President Vladimir Putin accused the U.S. of using a "far-fetched pretext" to attack Syria following a chemical attack in rebel-held Idlib Province, which U.S. and other Western officials have attributed to the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad.
 
"Washington's move deals a significant blow to the Russia-U.S. relations, which are already in a deplorable shape," a Putin spokesman said.
 
Russia has called off its use of a shared military communications channel that had been used to prevent possible midair collisions between U.S. and Russian pilots.
 
The so-called deconfliction line was established in October 2015 after several close calls between Washington and Moscow's air forces in Syrian skies.
 
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Viktor Ozerov, the chairman of the defense committee in the Federation Council, condemned the Trump administration's move to launch 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles at the Shayrat Air Base on Thursday, which killed at least seven, stating that the operation could endanger any further joint military operations. 
 
"This could eliminate the ongoing cooperation between Russian and U.S. forces in Syria," Ozerov said, as reported by RIA news.
 
He further stressed that the operation may destroy joint anti-terrorism efforts in the country.
 
"The U.S. rocket strike could tank the effort to combat terrorism in Syria," Ozerov maintained.
 
The Pentagon said Thursday evening that it notified Russia in advance of the "proportional response" to this week's chemical weapons attack, which killed dozens, including children. Defense Department spokesman Jeff Davis said "the U.S. took extraordinary measures to avoid civilian casualties." 
 
Another member of the Federation Council echoed Ozerov's remarks on Friday, stressing that future cooperation with Russia in Syria is now unlikely.
 
"Either way, Russian missiles continue to target terrorists while the American rockets hit government forces that spearhead the effort against terrorists," said Konstantin Kosachev.
 
"I am afraid that with such an approach the desired Russo-American anti-terrorist coalition in Syria — that has so frequently been discussed since Trump came to power — will not come to fruition," he added.
 
Updated at 8:22 a.m.