TEHRAN, April 9 (NNN-AGENCIES) -- The Russian and Iranian army chiefs vowed to keep battling "terrorists" in Syria, a day after a US missile onslaught on a Syrian airbase following a suspected chemical weapons attack.
General Valery Gerasimov and Major General Mohammad Bagheri spoke by phone and "condemned the American operation against a Syrian airbase which is an aggression against an independent country".
US warships in the Mediterranean launched a barrage of 59 cruise missiles at Shayrat airbase in Syria early on Friday, after 87 people including 31 children were killed in a suspected aerial chemical attack on rebel-held Khan Sheikhun.
Another air strike on Saturday on the same town in the northwestern province of Idlib killed a woman, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported. It said it was unclear if the latest strike was by Syrian warplanes or those of Damascus's ally Russia.
The monitor also reported an air strike on Urum al-Joz, another Idlib town, on Saturday that killed 18 civilians including five children. The Observatory said the Urum al-Joz raid was believed to have been carried out by Russian aircraft.
Idlib province is controlled by a rebel alliance that includes a former Al-Qaeda affiliate, and is regularly targeted by both the Syrian government and its Russian ally.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov accused Washington of "playing the terrorism game", during his first phone talks with his US counterpart Rex Tillerson since the US air strikes on Syria.
A foreign ministry statement said Lavrov also reaffirmed Russia's position that accusations that the Syrian regime had launched a chemical weapons attack on Khan Sheikhun "are not in line with reality".
The statement by the Iranian and Russian military chiefs said they both vowed to continue their military cooperation in support of Assad "until the total defeat of the terrorists and those that support them", according to Iran's Mehr news agency.
The American strikes "aim at slowing the victories of the Syrian army and its allies, and reinforcing terrorist groups", they said in a statement.
Iran and Russia are Assad's closest allies, and label all opponents of his regime as "terrorists". Both Tehran and Moscow have defended Assad against Western allegations that his regime carried out the suspected chemical weapons attack on Khan Sheikhun.
Meanwhile, hundreds more Syrian rebels and their families on Saturday left the last opposition-held neighbourhood of the central city of Homs, the state news agency reported.
SANA said at least 242 rebels had left Waer along with their families under a deal granting them safe passage to opposition-held territory elsewhere in the country.
More than 320,000 people have been killed in Syria since the conflict erupted in March 2011 with anti-government demonstrations. -- NNN-AGENCIES
Source: NAM News Network