President Trump’s decision to launch an airstrike against a Syrian airbase thought to be the source of Tuesday’s chemical weapons attack drew widespread approval from European leaders, who deemed the assault proportionate and justified.
On Thursday, the United States launched 59 Tomahawk missiles from two Navy destroyers in the Mediterranean Sea in response to the massacre of more than 80 civilians, including 28 children, allegedly through the illegal use of deadly sarin gas bombs. The target was al-Shayrat military airfield near Homs, believed to be the provenance of Tuesday’s nerve gas attack.
British Prime Minister Theresa May said the action was an “appropriate response” to the “barbaric” chemical weapons attack launched by the Syrian regime.
UK Defense Secretary Michael Fallon noted that the strike was a United States operation, “but let me emphasize again we fully support it.”
“This strike was very limited to one airfield, it was entirely appropriate, it’s designed to deter the regime from carrying out further chemical weapons attacks,” he said.
Similar remarks came from the European continent.
“President Assad bears sole responsibility for this development,” declared German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President François Hollande in a joint statement Friday. “His repeated use of chemical weapons and his crimes against his own population had to be sanctioned.”
German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel called the attack “understandable” after the failure of the Security Council to come together in chastising Syria.
“The action Trump ordered tonight was a response to a war crime,” said Italian Prime Minister, Paolo Gentiloni, “a war crime under the responsibility of Bashar Al Assad.”
“Italy understands the reasons for U.S. military action proportionate in time and manner,” said Italian Foreign Minister Angelino Alfano, “in response to an unacceptable sense of impunity and as a deterrent signal to the threat of further uses of chemical weapons by Assad, following those already established by the UN.”
Elsewhere, Trump received support from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who Friday said the strike sent a “strong and clear” message that the use of chemical weapons will not be tolerated.
“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,” Netanyahu said.
Australian Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull said his government fully supported the strike, called the move a “swift and just response.”
“This was a proportionate response by the United States. It is not designed to overthrow the Assad regime,” he said.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe offered his full support for the U.S. strike, and noted that Japan “highly appreciates” the Trump administration’s commitment to maintaining global order and working with its allies at a time when “the threat from weapons of mass destruction is also growing more serious in East Asia.”
Russia predictably denounced the strike as an “act of aggression against a UN member,” warning that the move could end cooperation between the Russian and US military branches.
“Russia will demand an urgent UN Security Council meeting after the US airstrike on Syrian aviation base. This is an act of aggression against a UN member,” the Kremlin stated, adding that it was an act of “aggression against a sovereign state in violation of international law.”
Iran, too, “strongly condemned the US strike” and suggested that the action would lead to increased terror activity.
“Iran strongly condemns any such unilateral strikes,” said foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi. “Such measures will strengthen terrorists in Syria… and will complicate the situation in Syria and the region.”
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