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Lavrov: US-Led Strike on Syrian Forces is Blow to Fight Against Terrorism

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The new US-led attack against pro-Damascus forces in Syria is a strike against the most effective counterterrorist force, the Russian foreign minister said.

MOSCOW (Sputnik) — The latest US-led coalition attack on pro-government forces violates Syria's sovereignty and causes concern in Moscow, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Wednesday.

"Of course, this is an aggressive act that violates the sovereignty, territorial integrity of the Syrian Arab Republic and is wittingly or unwittingly aimed against the most effective forces fighting terrorists on the ground," Lavrov said.

A  French Air Force F-16 receives fuel from a fuel boom suspended from a US Air Force KC-10 Extender during mid-air refueling support to Operation Inherent Resolve over Iraq and Syria air space, March 15, 2017 - Sputnik International
Fresh US-Led Coalition Strike in Syria Violates Int'l Law - Russia Deputy FM
Speaking at a briefing alongside his Spanish counterpart, Lavrov said the airstrike in al-Tanf announced by the US Department of Defense on Tuesday "of course causes our concern."

Lavrov cited uncorroborated information that the pro-government forces attacked by the coalition sought to prevent terrorists from destroying two bridges connecting Syria with Iraq.

"If this information is correct, which it apparently is, then the strikes were inflicted on forces that wanted to prevent terrorists' intentions to destroy the communication opportunities between the two Arab countries," he said.

The United States' deconfliction zones in Syria are illegitimate without the consent of Damascus and cannot be accepted by Moscow, Lavrov said.

He said he was unaware of deconfliction zones that the US-led coalition claimed Tuesday were violated by pro-government Syrian forces before they were attacked near al-Tanf.

"Maybe this refers to territories unilaterally established by the coalition, which were probably unilaterally declared as zones where only the coalition can control everything, We cannot recognize such zones," he said.

"We consider the unilateral announcement of certain deconfliction territories without the consent of Damascus as illegitimate, and we hope that the coalition will follow the understanding reached with us that the de-escalation zones should be coordinated in their details with all interested parties," Lavrov said.

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