‘Legitimate, proportional step’: US allies praise strikes on Syria
The US, supported by France and the UK, launched a barrage of missiles targeting several sites in Syria late. Shortly after the attack, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian called it “legitimate, proportional and targeted.” He then accused the Syrian government of using chemical weapons, which poses a threat to international security.
Earlier, French President Emmanuel Macron claimed that Paris has evidence of Syria’s possession of chemical weapons, despite the destruction of the weapons being confirmed by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) years ago.
The UK was also quick to praise the move. “Welcome the news of UK military strikes against major chemical weapons facilities in Syria alongside our US and French allies,” Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson tweeted.
NATO ally Turkey, which is waging its own military operation against Kurdish militias in northern Syria, also weighed in.
"We welcome this operation which has eased humanity’s conscience in the face of the attack in Douma, largely suspected to have been carried out by the regime," the Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
The foreign ministry also stated that Turkish Incirlik Air Base was not used by any of its partners to launch the strikes.
European Council President Donald Tusk did not waste the opportunity to hit out at Russia and Iran. “Syrian regime together with Russia & Iran cannot continue this human tragedy, at least not without cost,” he tweeted, adding that “the EU will stand with our allies on the side of justice.”
All of this comes in the absence of publicly-available proof or any conclusions from the OPCW, which has not checked the site of the alleged chemical weapon attack. Another part of the organization’s fact finding-mission is scheduled to come to Syria on Saturday. Earlier, Russian specialists on the ground maintained that there were no traces of chemicals.
During the past week, Western leaders were in an apparent rush to blame the Syrian government of conducting the chemical attack in the town of Douma. Their bellicose rhetoric was based on reports from jihadists-linked sources, including the infamous White Helmets group.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg also hailed the US-led bombings. In a statement on Saturday, he claimed the strikes will reduce “the regime’s ability to further attack the people of Syria with chemical weapons” and called the use of chemical weapons “a threat to international peace and security.”
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau echoed the words of the NATO chief, condemning “in the strongest possible terms the use of chemical weapons in last week’s attack in eastern Ghouta.” Trudeau said that Canada “supports the decision by the United States, the United Kingdom, and France to take action to degrade the Assad regime’s ability to launch chemical weapons attacks against its own people.”
Berlin also supported the intervention. German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesperson said: “We support the fact that our American, British and French allies have taken responsibility in this way as permanent members of the UN Security Council.” The statement was slammed by opposition parties.
Sahra Wagenknecht, the head of Germany’s Left Party (Die Linke), described the US-led missile strike as “another military violation of international law.” She pointed out that the strikes took place before OPCW inspectors could carry out on-site inspections in Douma, tweeting: “Stop this madness! The federal government must finally distance itself clearly from NATO countries that trample on international law and make a mockery of relevant international organizations.”
Green Party co-chairwoman Anna Baerbock said that further military escalation was a mistake, even if it comes in response to the “horrific cruelty of the Syrian regime and its allies.” A tweet by the party said that “Vengeance must never be the goal. The goal must be saving lives and creating peace.”
In contrast with its major NATO allies, Italy issued a more measured statement which emphasized that Rome “did not participate” in the attack on Syria. While providing logistical support to the United States, “in this particular case we insisted and clarified that it could not in any way be converted into the fact [military] actions directly aimed at Syria [originated] from Italian territory,” Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni said, as cited by state news agency ANSA.