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Iranian officials give 'muted' response to US missile strike in Syria

Iranian officials have condemned the American military strike on Syria but appear not to be pushing for an escalation with the United States.
U.S. Navy guided-missile destroyer USS Porter (DDG 78) conducts strike operations while in the Mediterranean Sea which U.S. Defense Department said was a part of cruise missile strike against Syria  on April 7, 2017.  Ford Williams/Courtesy U.S. Navy/Handout via REUTERS   ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. EDITORIAL USE ONLY. - RTX34HHG

Iran’s military and economic support for the Syrian government in the country’s 6-year-old civil war is no secret. Many Iranian officials see Syria’s and Iran’s fates tied together. So naturally when the United States launched its first strikes targeting the Syrian government, Iranian officials roundly criticized the act. However, in their statements, Iranian officials are not seeking to escalate tensions with the United States over what appears to be a symbolic US attack rather than a prolonged military campaign.

In his comments April 9 to the country’s military commanders, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei saved his harshest words for European leaders rather than the United States. Recounting the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq War, he said, “The hypocritical European governments who claim there was chemical weapons use in Syria, during the [Iran-Iraq] war, gave tons of chemical weapons to [Iraqi President] Saddam [Hussein] for him to attack the war front and our regions in Sardasht and Halabja.” (Halabja, a Kurdish town in Iraq, had been taken by Iran shortly before the chemical attack in 1988.) In contrast, in response to the United States' launching 59 Tomahawk missiles at Shayrat air base, Khamenei said, “What the Americans did, it was wrong and a strategic mistake.”

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