Mon Apr 10, 2017 10:33AM
President Hassan Rouhani gestures during a news conference in Tehran, April 10, 2017. (Photo by IRNA)
President Hassan Rouhani gestures during a news conference in Tehran, April 10, 2017. (Photo by IRNA)

President Hassan Rouhani has warned that further US strikes on Syria as threatened by American and other Western officials could push the region into a "very dangerous" situation. 

Rouhani told a news conference in Tehran Monday that a US missile strike against a Syrian airbase last week was “basically wrong” which "benefited terrorism." 

"A repeat of such an action could be very dangerous for the region," he said of US tomahawking of the Shayrat airfield near the Syrian city of Homs on Friday.  

US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley has said her country was ready to hit Syria again. On Sunday, British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson warned that the US could strike Syria again.

"America did this once, but will it go unanswered next time? Russians have said that a confrontation was only a few inches away. They are quite right, if the missiles had hit a few hundred meters higher or lower, it could have led to a major confrontation," Rouhani said. 

The president held phone talks with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on Sunday, during which they said aggressive US actions against Syria were not permissible and violated international law. 

They also called for an objective investigation into an incident involving chemical weapons in Syria's Idlib, which the US cited as the reason to attack the airfield.   

Fact-finding mission 

Rouhani said he proposed to Putin and Syrian President Bashar Assad that a fact-finding committee be formed to visit the alleged chemical attack site. 

"If a neutral fact-finding committee goes to the region and scientifically examines the issue, everything will be clarified," he said, adding in their conversation, Putin stressed that finding about all aspects of the incident was quite easy.  

President Rouhani addresses Iranian and foreign reporters during a news conference in Tehran, April 10, 2017. (Photo by IRNA) 

“What if this committee goes there and finds out this has been done by the terrorists? What will the Americans' answer be then?” Rouhani asked. 

“What will become of Syria and the region’s situation if the terrorists realize that whenever they release some gas somewhere, America will practically back them?” he added. 

Washington has accused the Syrian government of being behind the alleged gas attack even though it has not produced any evidence  in the face of categorical denials by Damascus. 

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US military officials say some 60 Tomahawk missiles were fired from warships deployed to the Mediterranean at the Shayrat airfield in response to the alleged chemical attack. 

"First off, the Americans carried out this attack under a pretext which is neither verified nor clear. Some chemical gas has been released in Khan Shaykhun and several people have been killed or injured. How has it come, what was it and how was it? Rouhani said. 

“The Syrian government and people should respond to this strike on the battlefield and deal a blow to the terrorists to show to America that such actions are futile," the Iranian president said.   

Rouhani said US actions in Syria contradict international law, logic, and the interests of other countries, adding those countries which cheer Washington "do it because they want terrorists to get bolstered."  

Need for reforms

The Iranian president said a solution to the Syria crisis should come out of the ballot boxes, while the Syrian government has to carry out some reforms. 

“Iran's view from the very beginning was that the only solution to the Syrian problem is the ballot box. However, it is necessary that some reforms are also done in the Syrian government," he said.