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World Reacts to US Strike on Syrian Airfield

  • VOA Staff

President Vladimir Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov speaks with The Associated Press in Moscow, April 6, 2017. Peskov, speaking days after a suspected chemical weapons attack, says Russia's support for Syrian President Bashar Assad is not unconditional.

Several U.S. allies say they fully support the U.S. military action in Syria, while Russian President Vladimir Putin views the U.S. move as an "aggression against a sovereign nation" on a "made-up pretext."

International reaction to the U.S. missile strike on a Syrian air base has been flowing into various media outlets around the globe as the world ponders the news that U.S. President Donald Trump ordered the strike in retaliation to the recent gruesome chemical weapons attack that killed about 100 Syrian civilians, including women and children.

A Syrian watchdog says the air base attack killed at least four Syrian soldiers, while Syrian officials say six people were killed and several wounded. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the attack damaged more than a dozen hangars, a fuel depot and an air defense base.

Dmitry Peskov, Putin's spokesman, said the Russian president, who is a staunch ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, does not believe Syria has chemical weapons.

The Kremlin said in a statement the U.S. action has inflicted "considerable damage" to already "lamentable" U.S.-Russia ties.

The Russian Foreign Ministry says it is calling for an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council, and says the Syrian air safety agreement that has been in place with the U.S. has been suspended.

Iran also "strongly condemned" the U.S. strike, saying the "unilateral action is dangerous, destructive and violates the principles of international law."

However, Numan Kurtulmus, Turkey's deputy prime minister, said in a live television interview the U.S. strike on the Syrian air base was "positive" and that the regime's "barbarism must immediately be stopped." He said "We believe that the Assad regime must be punished completely in the international arena." Turkish forces have been involved in the fight in Syria and hosts many refugees from the neighboring country.

Turkey's foreign minister called for the immediate removal of Assad and the establishment of a transitional government. "It is necessary to oust this regime as soon as possible from the leadership of Syria," said Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu. "If he doesn't want to go, if there is no transition government, and if he continues committing humanitarian crimes, the necessary steps to oust him should be taken."

A British government spokesman said Friday, "The UK 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 attack."

French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel issued a joint statement saying Assad bore "sole responsibility" for the airstrike, following the chemical attack.

Jean-Marc Ayrault, the French foreign minister, said "Use of chemical weapons is appalling and should be punished because it is a war crime."

Saudi Arabia said in a statement Trump's move was a "courageous decision." The Saudi Foreign Ministry said U.S. action was the right response to "the crimes of this regime to its people in light of the failure of the international community to stop it."

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said "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."

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said his government supports the U.S. action as a means to "prevent further deterioration of the situation."

China's Foreign Ministry has called on all sides to stick to political settlements. Beijing make the comment Friday as President Xi Jinping continued his visit to the U.S. where he will meet with Trump again Friday after the two met Thursday at Trump's Florida resort.

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said the U.S. missile strike on the Syrian air base was "a calibrated, proportionate and targeted response."

A Polish government spokesman said his government "supports all actions to end war and humanitarian crisis in Syria."

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