Syria’s Assad tells Russian lawmakers Western strikes were act of aggression

In this image obtained from the US Department of Defense, a US Air Force B-1 Bomber separates from the boom pod after receiving fuel from an Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker en route to strike chemical weapons targets in Syria, April 13, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 15 April 2018
0

Syria’s Assad tells Russian lawmakers Western strikes were act of aggression

  • The meeting followed missile strikes by the United States, France and Britain against Syrian government targets over a suspected poison gas attack a week ago
  • Russia said on Saturday it would consider supplying S-300 surface to-air missile systems to Syria following the Western strikes

MOSCOW: Syrian President Bashar Assad told a group of Russian lawmakers on Sunday that Western missile strikes on his country were an act of aggression.
The meeting followed missile strikes by the United States, France and Britain against Syrian government targets over a suspected poison gas attack a week ago.
Russia, which is helping Assad fight militants and rebels opposed to his rule, immediately condemned the strikes and called for an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council.
“From the point of view of the president, this was aggression and we share this position,” Russia’s TASS news agency quoted lawmaker Sergei Zheleznyak as saying after the meeting with Assad in the Syrian capital Damascus.
The president was in a “good mood” and continuing his work in Damascus, agencies cited the lawmakers as saying, and praised the Soviet-era air defense systems Syria used to help to repel the Western attacks.
“The tripartite aggression against Syria accompanied a campaign of disinformation,” Assad’s office quoted him as saying on Sunday. Moscow and Damascus are “waging one battle, not only against terrorism” but also to protect the sovereignty of states, he told the Russian officials.
Both countries have dismissed the reports of the alleged gas attack as bogus, accusing Washington of using it as a pretext for the strikes.
A senior Russian military official said on Saturday that Syria’s air defenses, which mostly consist of systems made in the former Soviet Union, had intercepted 71 of the 105 American, British and French missiles.
The Pentagon has said the strikes successfully hit the three chemical weapons facilities which were targeted.
“Yesterday we saw American aggression. And we were able to repel it with Soviet missiles from the 70s,” Russian lawmaker Dmitry Sablin quoted Assad as saying, TASS reported.
Sablin also said Assad accepted an invitation to visit the Siberian region of Khanty-Mansi in Russia. It was not clear when the visit would take place.
Russia said on Saturday it would consider supplying S-300 surface to-air missile systems to Syria following the Western strikes, but this was not discussed at the meeting with Assad, agencies reported.
Assad also declined to comment on calls by the US State Department to declare alleged Syrian stockpiles of chemical weapons, Zheleznyak said.


Moroccans protest prison sentences of anti-poverty activists

Updated 21 April 2019
0

Moroccans protest prison sentences of anti-poverty activists

  • Security forces kept watch as participants sang, “The people want the detainees released” and “Long live Rif.”

RABAT: Thousands of demonstrators in Morocco are condemning prison sentences given to the leader of the Hirak Rif anti-poverty movement and dozens of other activists.
The demonstration brought one of the main avenues of the Moroccan capital, Rabat, to a standstill on Sunday. Security forces kept watch as participants sang, “The people want the detainees released” and “Long live Rif.”
Hirak leader Nasser Zefzafi was sentenced to the maximum prison term of 20 years for threatening state security. An appeals court upheld his sentence and those of other activists this month.
Rif is the struggling region in northern Morocco where the Hirak movement was born in 2016. The movement demands development and job creation for the region.
Families, human rights organizations and left-wing parties are demanding the imprisoned activists’ immediate release.