Russia and Iran sharply criticized U.S. missile strikes on a Syrian airfield on Thursday night, while European countries have been broadly supportive so far.
April 9, 2017
By Gregor Aisch, Yonette Joseph And Anjali Singhvi April
Supported missile strikes
“The U.K. government fully supports the U.S. 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.”
Germany and France
In a joint statement, Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany and President François Hollande of France said that President Bashar al-Assad of Syria “bears sole responsibility” for the strike.
A spokesman for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey said, “The destruction of Sharyat airbase marks an important step to ensure that chemical and conventional attacks against the civilian population do not go unpunished.”
Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, said in a statement: “President Trump sent a strong and clear message today that the use and spread 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.”
Saudi Arabia’s state news agency SPA said the government “fully supports” the missile strikes, calling it a “courageous decision” by President Trump in response to the use of chemical weapons by the Assad government against civilians.
Malcolm Turnbull, Australia’s prime minister, said the “Australian government strongly supports the swift and just response of the United States.” He added, “This was a calibrated, proportionate and targeted response. It sends a strong message to the Assad regime.”
Italy’s foreign minister, Angelino Alfano, said, “Italy understands the reasons for the U.S. military action.” However, Italy’s opposition parties condemned the strikes, saying, “Unilateral action is dangerous, destructive and violates the principles of International law.”
A spokesman for the Polish government said that the United States was a guarantor of world peace and that there were times when you needed to react.
The United Arab Emirates
The foreign affairs minister, Anwar Gargash, said: “The attack on the civilians is a continuation of the heinous crimes committed by the regime against the Syrian people. It is a blatant violation of international and humanitarian conventions.”
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said, “Japan supports the U.S. government’s determination to prevent the spread and use of chemical weapons.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in a statement: “Canada fully supports the United States’ limited and focused action to degrade the Assad regime’s ability to launch chemical weapons attacks against innocent civilians, including many children. President Assad’s use of chemical weapons and the crimes the Syrian regime has committed against its own people cannot be ignored. These gruesome attacks cannot be permitted to continue with impunity.”
Opposed missile strikes
President Bashar al-Assad’s office denounced the U.S. strike as “reckless, irresponsible behavior.” The Syrian military called the attack a “blatant aggression” that would undermine Syria’s “fight against terrorism.”
Russia’s leader, Vladimir V. Putin, called the U.S. strikes “an act of aggression against a sovereign state delivered in violation of international law under a far-fetched pretext.” Russia said it was suspending an agreement to minimize the risk of in-flight clashes between American and Russian aircraft in Syria airspace. Russia also called on the United Nations Security Council to convene an emergency meeting.
Bahram Ghasemi of the Iranian Foreign Ministry said the “unilateral action is dangerous, destructive and violates the principles of international law.”
Neutral or unclear
China has played it neutral on the strikes, with Hua Chunying of the Chinese Foreign Ministry saying, “We hope all sides will stay calm and exercise restraint to prevent the escalation of tension.”
Sweden’s foreign minister, Margot Wallstrom, said the attack “raises questions about how this could be compatible with international law.”