April 7, 2017 / 8:45 AM / 3 months ago

U.S. attack will not lead to military escalation, says pro-Damascus official

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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

BEIRUT (Reuters) - The U.S. missile attack on a Syrian airbase on Friday will elevate political tensions but is not expected to lead to a military escalation, said a senior official in the military alliance supporting President Bashar al-Assad.

"No doubt this will leave great tension on the political level, but I do not expect a military escalation. Currently I do not believe that we are going towards a big war in the region," the official told Reuters.

The official, a non-Syrian, spoke on condition of anonymity, saying this was a personal assessment and not said as a spokesman for the alliance.

Assad has been backed in the six-year-old war by Russia, Iran and Shi'ite militias from countries including Iraq, Lebanon and Afghanistan. "I doubt that the Russians will escalate towards military friction with the Americans," the official said.

Reporting by Laila Bassam; Writing by Tom Perry; Editing by Andrew Roche

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