06:03 GMT +321 January 2020
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    Washington's strikes targeting an airfield in Syria are understandable as a response to reported chemical weapons attack, but should not lead to direct confrontation with Russia or Iran, French presidential candidate Francois Fillon said Friday.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) — The statement was made after the US airstrike against a Syrian airfield.

    US President Donald Trump said the attack was a response to the alleged chemical weapon use in Idlib on Tuesday, which Washington blames on Damascus.

    "This US response, which is understandable given the horror of the chemical attacks, should not lead to a direct confrontation of the the Western forces with those of Russia or Iran. That would be a terrible danger to peace," Fillon said in a press release.

    The United States launched 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles at the Syrian military airfield in Ash Sha'irat in the province of Homs. According to the Syrian armed forces, the attack claimed at least six lives.

    Following the strikes, Moscow decided to suspend he memorandum of understanding on air safety over Syria with Washington.

    On Tuesday, the Syrian National Coalition of Revolution and Opposition Forces reported that some 80 people were killed and 200 injured earlier on that day in a chemical weapon attack in the town of Khan Shaykhun in Idlib, blaming the Syrian army for the incident. A source in the Syrian army later told Sputnik that the army did not have chemical weapons and the allegations could be part of anti-Damascus propaganda.

    Following a 2013 chemical weapon attack in Syria's East Ghouta, Syria joined the Convention on the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. This was the result of an agreement between Russia and the United States on the destruction of chemical weapons in the Arab country under the control of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which also prevented the US military intervention in Syria. In January 2016, the OPCW announced that all chemical weapons in Syria had been destroyed.

    However, in June 2016, the US State Department released a report saying Syria continued to use chemical substances against citizens and suggesting the country could also stockpile chemical weapons. UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs Kim Won-soo said that the UN and OPCW experts still could not confirm the complete destruction of chemical weapon production facilities in Syria.

    On Thursday, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem stressed that the Syrian government forces had never used chemical weapons against civilians or terrorists and would never do that.

    presidential election, Francois Fillon, France, Syria, United States
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