MIDDLE EAST

Astana talks must go on despite Syria strikes: Iran FM

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi on Monday said Astana-hosted peace talks on Syria should continue despite this weekend's U.S.-led airstrikes against Syrian regime targets.

On Saturday, the U.S., in coordination with France and the U.K., carried out a series of strikes in Syria after blaming the Assad regime for an alleged April 7 chemical weapons attack in the Syrian city of Douma.

Speaking at a press conference in Tehran, Qassemi said that the ongoing Astana peace talks -- between Turkey, Iran and Russia -- were a thorn in the side of the U.S., which is not a party to the peace process.

"These strikes were aimed at creating a rift between Iran, Russia and Turkey," he said, urging the three countries "to remain vigilant and maintain their efforts to safeguard Syria's territorial integrity".

Qassemi also promised an Iranian response to a suspected Israeli attack one week ago on Syria's T4 military airbase in the western Homs province, which reportedly left seven Iranian soldiers dead.

"Israeli aggression against the Syrians and the region's Muslims remains ongoing," he said. "Sooner or later, they will see our response."

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