Damascus, Apr 14 (AFP) Syria’s government today denounced Western strikes on its military installations as a “brutal, barbaric aggression” that violated international law.

The US, France, and Britain launched a volley of strikes Saturday morning on positions around the capital Damascus and the central city of Homs.

“The Syrian Arab Republic condemns in the strongest terms the brutal American-British-French aggression against Syria, which constitutes a flagrant violation of international law,” the foreign ministry said.

AFP’s correspondent in Damascus said several consecutive blasts were heard at 4:00 am local time, followed by the sound of airplanes overhead.

State news agency SANA also reported the attack, but said it was “doomed to fail”.

The joint operation came one week after a suspected chemical attack on an opposition-controlled town outside Damascus left more than 40 people dead.

Western powers blamed President Bashar al-Assad, but Syria and its ally Russia categorically denied the claims and accused the West of “fabricating” the incident to justify military action.

The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons was set to begin its investigation inside the Eastern Ghouta town of Douma on Saturday, just hours after the strikes.

Syria’s foreign ministry said the strikes aimed to block their work.

“The timing of the aggression coincides with the arrival of the OPCW mission to Syria to investigate the alleged chemical attack in Douma, and mainly aims at hindering the mission’s work and preempting its results,” it said in comments carried by state news agency SANA.

The ministry said it was an “attempt to block the exposure of their lies and fabrications”.

It said the United States, Britain and France launched around 110 missiles on Syria, but air defences shot most of them down.

Three civilians were wounded in the Homs attacks, the ministry said, but it did not give a toll for Damascus or mention any combatant casualties.

Lebanese movement Hezbollah, an ally of the Syrian regime, sharply condemned the strikes, saying they would not achieve their objectives.

“America’s war against Syria, and against the region’s peoples and resistance movement, will not achieve its aims,” the group said in a statement published on its War Media Channel.

Several missiles hit a research centre in Barzeh, north of Damascus, “destroying a building that included scientific labs and a training centre,” SANA reported.

State media published images of a cloud of reddish smoke hanging over the capital and said that air defences were activated to block the attack.

But it said skies were clear over Aleppo in the north, Hasakeh in the northeast, and Latakia and Tartus along the western coast, where key Syrian and Russian military installations are located. (AFP) MRJ MRJ

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.