US President Donald Trump ordered a military strike on a Syrian air base on April 6, 2017, in retaliation for a "barbaric" chemical attack he blamed on Syrian president Bashar al-Assad (AFP Photo/Ford WILLIAMS)
US President Donald Trump ordered a military strike on a Syrian air base on April 6, 2017, in retaliation for a “barbaric” chemical attack he blamed on Syrian president Bashar al-Assad (AFP Photo/Ford WILLIAMS)

The United Nations Security Council has heard sharp exchanges over the US bombardment of a Syrian air base suspected of using chemical weapons, BBC reports.

Secretary General Antonio Guterres called for restraint as Russia accused the US of encouraging “terrorists” in the region with its unilateral actions.

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Russia has promised to strengthen its ally Syria’s anti-aircraft defences.

It is also closing down a hotline with the US designed to avoid collisions between their air forces over Syria.

US officials say the base was used to launch a chemical weapons attack that killed dozens of civilians on Tuesday.

In the first direct US military action against Syria’s government, at least six people are reported to have been killed.

Idlib’s opposition-run health authority says 89 people, including 33 children and 18 women, died in the suspected nerve gas attack in the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhoun. Syria denies using nerve gas.

Russia’s deputy ambassador to the UN, Vladimir Safronkov, told Friday’s session in New York the US military’s “illegitimate” missile strikes had encouraged “terrorists” in Syria.

“When you take your own path, this leads to horrible tragedies in the region,” he told America.

US ambassador Nikki Haley said America had acted to ensure President Assad would never use chemical weapons again.