London/Moscow, Apr 7 (PTI) The US military strike on Syria was widely hailed by the world community today with nations like the UK and Israel backing it as a “just” response to the chemical attack by President Bashar Al-Assad’s regime, but Russia and Iran strongly condemned the unilateral move.
The UK government said it “fully supports” the US missile strike against an air base in Syria over a suspected chemical weapons attack on Khan Sheikhun on Tuesday in which 86 people, including 27 children, were killed.
A 10 Downing Street spokesperson said, “Overnight, the US has taken military action against the Syrian regime, targeting the airfield in Shayrut which was used to launch the chemical weapons attack earlier this week.
“The UK government fully supports the US action, which we believe was an appropriate response to the barbaric chemical weapons attack launched by the Syrian regime, and is intended to deter further attacks.”
UK defence secretary Michael Fallon told the BBC that the UK had been in “close contact” with the US over the last few days and that British Prime Minister Theresa May had been “informed throughout”. He said that the UK government had not been asked to take part in the strike.
China condemned the deadly chemical weapons attack in Syria.
“We condemn the recent chemical attack in Syria, and we support the independent and comprehensive investigation conducted by the relevant UN agencies into … the use or suspected use of chemical weapons so as to reach a conclusion that stands the test of history and facts on the basis of solid evidence,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said.
“We have noted the latest developments. What is urgent now is to prevent the situation from deteriorating and uphold the hard-won political process to settle the Syrian issue,” she said, without mentioning the US military strike which came as China’s President Xi Jinping met his American counterpart Donald Trump in Florida.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he supports the “strong and clear message” sent by the US strike.
“In both word and action, President (Donald) Trump sent a strong and clear message today that the use and spread of chemical weapons will not be tolerated,” a statement from Netanyahu’s office said.
“Israel fully supports President Trump’s decision and hopes that this message of resolve in the face of the Assad regime’s horrific actions will resonate not only in Damascus, but in Tehran, Pyongyang and elsewhere.”
Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said, “The Australian government strongly supports the swift and just response of the United States.”
“This was a calibrated, proportionate and targeted response,” Turnbull said, adding that the US had informed Australia before the strike.
He said Australia was not involved in the strike, but remained fully committed as a coalition partner to ‘ongoing military operations in Iraq and Syria’.
Russia, one of the the closest allies of the regime of Assad, said it considers the US strike as “aggression against a sovereign state” which will further harm US-Russia ties.
“President Putin considers American strikes on Syria aggression against a sovereign state in violation of international norms, and under an invented pretext,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.
“The Syrian army does not have any chemical weapon stockpiles,” Peskov said.
“The fact of destruction of all chemical weapon stockpiles of the Syrian armed forces was recorded and confirmed by the (Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons).”
“This step by Washington inflicts considerable damage to US-Russia relations, which are already in a lamentable state,” Peskov added.
Russia also called for an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council to discuss the US missile strikes.
Iran also “strongly condemned” the military strike.
“We condemn all unilateral military action and the missile strike by US warships against Shayrat airbase under the pretext of Tuesday’s suspected attack on Khan Sheikhun,” foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Ghassemi told the Fars news agency.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande issued a joint statement in response to the US air strike and blamed Assad for the US action.
“President Assad alone bears the responsibility for this development. His repeated use of chemical weapons and his crimes against his own people demand sanctions which France and Germany already asked for in the summer of 2013 after the massacre at Ghouta,” they said.
Italy gave its support to the US action, saying it was a suitable response to Syrian aggression and a deterrent against the use of chemical weapons by its leader.
European Union President Donald Tusk said the US missile strikes demonstrated “needed resolve” against chemical attacks.
The bloc will work with the US to “end brutality” in Syria, he said.
NATO head Jens Stoltenberg blamed Syria for the US missile strikes.
“Any use of chemical weapons is unacceptable, cannot go unanswered, and those responsible must be held accountable,” he said.
Saudi Arabia said it “fully supports” US strikes, terming it a “courageous decision” by Trump in response to the use of chemical weapons against civilians.
“A responsible source at the foreign ministry expressed the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia s full support for the American military operations on military targets in Syria, which came as a response to the Syrian regime’s use of chemical weapons against innocent civilians,” a statement carried by state news agency SPA said.
Turkey’s foreign ministry said it viewed US missile strikes against a Syrian air base “extremely positively” and added that Turkey would fully support steps that would ensure accountability for the Syrian regime.
Meanwhile, Turkish President Recap Tayyip Erdogan’s spokesman called for the creation of a no-fly zone and safe zones within Syria.