World leaders have reacted to the President Trump’s order to launch missiles at a Syrian Government air base.
The United States has launched dozens of cruise missiles into central Syria, striking an Assad government-controlled air base from where America says the Syrian military initiated a deadly chemical attack that killed dozens of civilians this week.
Syrian state TV called the attack, announced by US president Donald Trump, an “aggression” that led to “losses” and Talal Barazi, the governor of Syria’s Homs province, said later that the attack killed some Syrians.
About 60 US Tomahawk missiles hit the Shayrat air base south east of Homs - a small installation with two runways, where aircraft often take off to bomb targets in northern and central Syria.
The US missiles struck at 3.45am on Friday, Syria time, and targeted the base’s airstrips, hangars, control tower and ammunition areas, American officials said.
They were fired from two warships in the Mediterranean Sea, in retaliation for Tuesday’s deadly chemical attack that officials said used chlorine mixed with a nerve agent, possibly sarin.
Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon appeared on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, approving the strikes.
The Ministry of Defence tweeted: “Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon has welcomed US strikes on a Syrian airfield last night, saying they were ‘limited and appropriate’.”
Speaking to the BBC Fallon ruled out UK military intervention in Syria:
“We’ve all got to work much harder. We’re not committed to military action against Syria.
“Our parliament considered that before back in 2013 and turned it down.”
But we are involved in trying to get a political settlement in Syria and we will all be working harder to do that now.
China’s Global Times, a nationalist Communist party controlled tabloid that sometimes reflects official views, has published an online editorial criticising Trump’s strikes against Syria.
The newspaper says the attack is likely to spark conflict between the US and Russia and “took place despite no definitive results from the investigation by an international organization, and was carried out in the absence of a UN Security Council resolution.”
Israel’s prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomed the US attack, saying he “fully supports” Mr Trump’s decision.
Mr Netanyahu said “in both word and action” Mr Trump “sent a strong and clear message” that “the use and spread of chemical weapons will not be tolerated”.
Russia’s Foreign Ministry said it was preparing a statement on the US strike.
Earlier, Alexei Pushkov, head of information policy commission in the upper house of the Russian parliament, said on Twitter that if Mr Trump launched a military action in Syria it would put him in “the same league with Bush and Obama”.
Russian deputy envoy to the UN, Vladimir Safronkov, said Russia had warned the US to “think about what military actions have led to in Iraq, Libya and other countries”, according to Interfax news agency.
The Kremlin warned that the strikes were a “significant blow to Russian-American relations, which were already in a sorry state”.
Australia’s prime minister Malcolm Turnbull said his government “strongly supports the swift and just response of the United States”.
“This was a calibrated, proportionate and targeted response,” he said.
“It sends a strong message to the Assad regime and ... has been struck at the very airfield from which the chemical attack was delivered.
“But we are not at war with the Assad regime and the United States have made it clear that they are not seeking to overthrow the Assad regime,” he added.
“Many innocent people became victims from the chemical attacks. The international community was shocked by the tragedy that left many young children among the victims,” Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told reporters.
“Japan supports the U.S. government’s determination to prevent the spread and use of chemical weapons,” he said.
France was among the countries informed by the US ahead of the strikes, French foreign minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said.
“I was told by Rex Tillerson during the night,” Ayrault said, calling the missile strike “a warning [to] a criminal regime”.
Angelino Alfano, the Italian foreign minister, said in a statement that Italy understood the reasons behind US military action and called the strikes a “proportionate” deterrent to the further use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime.
A spokesperson for Global Affairs said Canada supported “efforts to stop these atrocities,” adding Canada would have more to say later today.
“Canada continues to condemn in the strongest of terms chemical weapons attacks against Syrian civilians. We have been in touch with our U.S. counterparts,” the statement read.
“The United States for sure are a guarantor of world peace and order. And there are situations when you need to react, situations when you need to take actual action,” spokesman Rafal Bochenek told state television TVP Info.
Saudi Arabia Saudi Arabia said it “fully supports” the strikes, adding that it was a “courageous decision” by President Donald Trump in response to the alleged use of chemical weapons against civilians in the town of Khan Sheikhoun, in northwestern Syria.
Iran, a strong Assad ally, said it strongly condemned the missile strikes against the Syrian army’s Shayrat air base.
“Iran strongly condemns any such unilateral strikes ... such measures will strengthen terrorists in Syria ... and it will complicate the situation in Syria and the region,” ISNA news agency quoted Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi as saying.
In a statement on Twitter, Danish Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen said: “United States has clearly marked that Assad’s atrocity does not go unpunished.”
Bolivia has requested the UN Security Council hold closed-door consultations on Friday about the missile strikes, a senior Security Council diplomat said.
Syrian Opposition forces
The Syrian Coalition opposition group welcomed the US attack, saying it put an end to an age of “impunity” and should be just the beginning.
Major Jamil al-Saleh commander of US-backed opposition rebel group the Alezzah Army, whose district was among those hit by chemical weapons, said he hoped the American assault would be a “turning point” in the six-year war.
The bombing is Mr Trump’s most dramatic military order since taking office.
The Obama administration threatened attacking Assad’s forces for previous chemical weapons attacks, but never followed through.
Mr Trump called on “all civilised nations” to join the US in seeking an end to the carnage in Syria.
President Bashar Assad’s government had been under mounting international pressure after the chemical attack in northern Syria, with even key ally Russia saying its support is not unconditional.
Turkey, meanwhile, said samples from victims of Tuesday’s attack, which killed more than 80 people in the town of Khan Sheikhoun, indicate they were exposed to sarin, a highly toxic nerve agent.
Syria rejected the accusations and Moscow had warned against apportioning blame until an investigation has been carried out.