During the phone conversation on Saturday, President Rouhani told Assad that Tehran will stand by Damascus, and voiced confidence that “this aggression would not weaken the determination of the Syrian people in its war against terrorism”.
Assad, for his part, said that the attack unites Syrians and increases Damascus’ resolve to continue “fighting and crushing terrorism in every inch of the country”.
He added that the joint attack against Syria came after the Western states realized they had lost control of the situation in the region and credibility in the conflict.
The US, British and French forces launched over 100 missiles on Syria early Saturday morning, and Russia says Damascus has managed to dodge 71.
In a televised address to the nation, US President Donald Trump said the three nations partnered in the missile launch.
The strikes were the biggest overt attack by the three Western powers against Syria in the country’s seven-year-old civil war, which has pitted the US and its allies against Russia.
Other NATO members refrained from partnership in the attack, although NATO secretary general voiced his support for the move.
Israel was also absent from today’s strike, fearing Iran’s response. After a recent missile strike on Syria’s T4 base that killed 12, including 7 Iranian military advisors, Tel Aviv has been on guard in anticipation of Iran’s tough reprisal.
Reports coming out of a national security meeting in the White House two days ago said Defense Secretary James Mattis opposed striking targets that would provoke Tehran and Moscow’s response, urging Trump and National Security Advisor John Bolton to think wisely and narrow down the scope of the attack.
The Pentagon claimed the strikes targeted a research center in greater Damascus and a chemical weapons storage facility and a command post west of Homs, while the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons has officially stated complete disarmament of Syria since two years ago.
The missile strikes took place as a team of OPCW is in Damascus to probe the alleged chemical incident in Douma last week, but the trio western allies didn’t wait for the result of their work for somehow unknown reasons.
The Iranian foreign ministry in a statement on Saturday morning strongly condemned the attack, warning that the aggression would entail dire repercussions in the region and beyond.
Deputy Commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Brigadier General Yadollah Javani also warned the US to “wait for the repercussions of its attack on Syria”, saying that the Saturday offensive “gave the Resistance Front a more open hand for showing reaction to such moves by the US and its allies”.
Meantime, Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei voiced strong condemnation for the Saturday morning US-led military aggression against Syria, describing the American, British and French heads of state as war criminals.
“This early morning strike against Syria is a crime. I clearly declare that the US, French and British heads of state are criminals and committed a crime,” Ayatollah Khamenei said, addressing the Iranian officials and ambassadors of Islamic countries in Tehran on Saturday.
He stressed that the three aggressive countries will not benefit from the attack, saying, “They have deployed in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan in the past few years and committed such crimes, but didn’t earn any benefit.”
Russia’s Ambassador to the US Anatoly Antonov said in a statement that Russia had warned that “such actions will not be left without consequences”.
Syrian state TV said Syrian air defenses shot down 15 missiles on Saturday morning. Syria’s state run news agency said the missiles fired at Homs were intercepted or deviated from the targets and wounded three.
But the Russian Defense Ministry declared in a statement later on Saturday that the Syrian air defense units have intercepted 71 of the 103 missiles fired at the country.