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Iran: Terrorists are celebrating US attack in Syria

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has said that the US airstrike on a Syrian air base will stoke terror and extremism in the region. He has also called for an independent probe into this week's alleged chemical attack.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani denounced his US counterpart Donald Trump on Saturday, claiming that the US' military attack on a Syrian air base overnight on Thursday would only encourage terrorist groups in the region.

"This man who is now in office in America claimed that he wanted to fight terrorism but today all terrorists in Syria are celebrating the US attack," Rouhani told an audience in Tehran.

The comments come after the US launched a barrage of Tomahawk missiles on a Syrian airbase in Shayrat. The White House said the attack was in retaliation to an alleged chemical strike earlier this week on the Syrian rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhoun that killed more than 80 people.

Read more: Can history tell us what might come next after the US intervention in Syria?

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Iran, along with Russia, is one of Syrian President Basahr al-Assad's closest allies, providing the Syrian regime with military and economic support in its war against rebel forces and the so-called "Islamic State" jihadist group.

Iran, Russia vow to continue fight against 'terrorism'

Iran's state news agency IRNA said on Saturday that Tehran and Moscow military chiefs had released a joint statement promising to continue fighting alongside Assad in the Syrian government's war against its enemies, which all three regimes label as "terrorists."

Iran's Mohammad Baqeri and Russia's Valery Gerasimov "stressed that the two countries would continue their cooperation with the Syrian government until the full defeat of the terrorists and their backers in the country," IRNA reported.

Read more: Russia: US airstrikes on Syria illegal

That statement followed with a series of air strikes on the rebel-held Syrian province of Idlib. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a monitoring group, said that 18 civilians, including five children, were killed in the nearby town of Urum al-Joz in strikes believed to be carried out by a Russian aircraft.

One woman was also reported to have died Saturday in an airstrike over the town of Khan Sheikhoun, the same town that was hit in Wednesday's alleged chemical attack

Iran calls for independent investigation is suspected gas attack

Rouhani on Saturday also called for an independent fact-finding mission to determine the cause of the devastating chemical attack in the town of Khan Sheikhoun.

Iran's president stressed that such a probe must be led by an impartial committee and "must not be headed by Americans."

"Neutral countries should come and assess to make it clear where the chemical weapons came from," Rouhani said.

The Syrian government has denied carrying out the devastating attack on Wednesday, while Russia's Defense Ministry said the fallout was caused by airstrikes hitting a rebel chemical weapons arsenal and munitions factory.

dm/kl (AP, Reuters, AFP)

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