The Latest: Russia calls on US to stop aggression in Syria

The Latest on events in Syria (all times local):

1:20 p.m.

Russia is calling on the United States "to immediately cease its aggression" and join efforts to bring peace to Syria and "work together to combat the terrorist threat."

Russia's deputy U.N. ambassador, Vladimir Safronkov, strongly criticized what he called the U.S. "flagrant violation of international law and an act of aggression" whose "consequences for regional and international security could be extremely serious."

He said Russia firmly stands by the Syrian government, calling it the main force against terrorism and saying it deserves the presumption of innocence in the chemical weapons attack.

But Safronkov offered a way ahead for the Trump administration — stop attacks, pursue a political settlement, and work jointly to combat "the terrorist threat."


12:40 p.m.

Senior military officials say the U.S. is looking into whether Russia participated in Syria's chemical weapons attack earlier this week.

The officials say Russia has failed to control the Syrian government's use of chemical weapons.

They say a drone belonging either to Russia or Syria was seen hovering over the site of the chemical weapons attack Tuesday after it happened. The drone returned late in the day as citizens were going to a nearby hospital for treatment. Shortly afterward, officials say the hospital was bombed.

The officials say they believe the hospital attack may have been an effort to cover up evidence of the attack.

The officials weren't authorized to speak publicly on the matter and demanded anonymity. They say they're still reviewing evidence.

— Lolita C. Baldor


12:30 p.m.

Britain's ambassador to the U.N. is stressing his country's strong support for the U.S. air strikes on Syria and harshly repudiating Russia for its protection of Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime.

Matthew Rycroft demanded that Russia "abandon its failed strategy," end its "protection of a war criminal," and join Western powers seeking to impose sanctions on Assad's regime.

He said, "Russia sits here today humiliated by its failure to bring to bear a puppet dictator entirely propped up by Russia."

Rycroft said Assad showed in the chemical weapons attack on the town of Khan Sheikhoun "that he is capable of redefining horror."

He said the United Kingdom will work in the U.N. Security Council to ensure that those responsible are brought to justice.


12:10 p.m.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (SHEEN-zoh AH-bay) says his government supports "the resolve of the U.S. government of never tolerating the proliferation and use of chemical weapons."

Abe is a close U.S. ally. He says chemical weapons have again taken the lives of many innocent people in Syria and the international community has been shocked by the tragedy.

In a statement issued Friday after the U.S. missile strike on Syria, Abe said Japan understands the U.S. action was intended to prevent "further worsening of the situation."

Abe added that the threat of weapons of mass destruction is becoming increasingly serious in East Asia as well — an apparent reference to North Korea, a neighbor of Japan. He said Japan praises Trump's commitment to "maintaining international order."


6:30 a.m.

Top European Union officials are supporting the U.S. missile strikes on military targets in Syria as a means of deterring further chemical weapons attacks by Damascus.

EU Council President Donald Tusk said in a tweet Friday that the "U.S. strikes show needed resolve against barbaric chemical attacks. EU will work with the US to end brutality in Syria."

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said in a statement that he "understands efforts to deter further attacks."

He said "there is a clear distinction between air strikes on military targets and the use of chemical weapons against civilians."


6:00 a.m.

NATO's chief says Syrian President Bashar Assad only has himself to blame for a U.S. missile strike launched in retaliation for a chemical weapons attack in Syria that killed dozens of people.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Friday that "the Syrian regime bears the full responsibility for this development."

He said that the U.S.-led military alliance "has consistently condemned Syria's continued use of chemical weapons as a clear breach of international norms and agreements."

Stoltenberg said that "any use of chemical weapons is unacceptable, cannot go unanswered, and those responsible must be held accountable."