Visiting Russian politicians shared Syrian President al-Assad’s view that the recent airstrikes had been an act of aggression. Chemical weapons investigators are set to begin probing the alleged gas attacks in Douma.
Russian politicians met with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Sunday, one day after joint airstrikes by the US, UK and France targeted centers related to suspected chemical weapons use by the Syrian government. Russia, an ally of al-Assad, condemned the strikes.
Al-Assad praised the Soviet era-air defense system that Syria had reportedly used to shoot down around 70 of the 100 missiles fired during the strikes, Russian news agencies said. He also described the airstrikes as an act of Western aggression, a view which the visiting lawmakers shared.
“From the point of view of the president, this was aggression and we share this position,” Russian lawmaker Sergei Zheleznyak said after his meeting with al-Assad, according to Russia’s TASS news agency.
The visiting Russians described al-Assad as in a “good mood.” The Syrian president also reportedly accepted an invitation to visit Siberia, though it was not clear when the visit would take place.
On Saturday, a draft resolution brought by Russia before the UN Security Council condemning the air attacks failed to pass.
OPCW work in Douma gets underway
The politicians’ visit came as the Agence France-Presse news agency reported that inspectors from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) were set to start their fact-finding mission on whether the chemical weapons of chlorine and sarin gas had been used against civilians in an April 7 attack in the town of Douma.