Russia, China slam US for Iraq, Syria strikes, call for de-escalation

Russia and China have slammed the United States for its recent air strikes on targets in Iraq and Syria.

The two countries accused Washington of raising the risk of regional escalation at a meeting of the United Nations Security Council late on Monday. Moscow also asserted that the US decision to launch the attacks was linked to the upcoming presidential election in November.

Russia, whose invasion of Ukraine has been the topic of bitter debate at the UNSC over the past two years, had requested the council meeting after the US launched dozens of strikes against Iran-aligned targets in Iraq and Syria. The attacks followed a drone strike on a US base in Jordan that killed three soldiers.

Moscow’s UN Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia alleged that the strikes were a US attempt to “flex its muscles”. It was also fuelled, he claimed at the UNSC, by a desire to influence its domestic political landscape and shore up the “disastrous” image of President Joe Biden’s administration.

The attacks, which killed several dozen people, including civilians, demonstrate Washington’s complete disregard for international law, Nebenzia added. He also accused the US of seeking to draw Middle Eastern powers, including Iran, into a regional conflict.

Ally Syria joined Russia in pointing at domestic US politics as a motive for the strikes. Envoy Koussay Aldahhak said Damascus rejects states being used as a “platform for US election campaigns and for displaying a brute force that undermines the principles of collective security”.

China also condemned the attacks. Beijing’s ambassador Zhang Jun echoed the concern about escalating tensions.

“The US purports that it does not seek to create conflicts in the Middle East or anywhere else, but in reality, it does precisely the opposite,” he said.

“The US military actions are undoubtedly stoking new turmoil in this region and further intensifying tensions.”

Distraction

Saeid Iravani, the ambassador for Iran, said the US attacks had violated international law and displayed a “desperate attempt” to distract attention away from the root cause of current regional turmoil – Israel’s US-backed war on Gaza that has killed more than 27,000 Palestinians.

“Claims that Iran’s bases in Iraq and Syria were attacked are rejected as unfounded and regarded as attempts to shift attention away from the US aggressive actions,” he said.

“It is evident to everyone that the root causes in the region are occupation, aggression and continued genocide and horrific atrocities committed by Israeli regime, and fully supported by the US, against innocent Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and West Bank.”

Washington said its attacks in Iraq and Syria hit targets linked with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, which has spent decades supporting an “axis of resistance” of like-minded political and armed groups against US influence in the region.

Tehran says its supported forces in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen operate independently and it played no role in the attack on the US base in northern Jordan.

The US and the United Kingdom have also been launching barrages of attacks on Yemen, where the Iran-aligned Houthi movement has been disrupting global shipping routes with the stated goal of stopping Israel’s war on Gaza.