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World reacts to US-led strikes on Syria

Members of the Security Council vote during a United Nations Security Council meeting on a ceasefire in Syria
Don EMMERT (AFP/File)
An alphabetical list of global reactions to US, UK and French air strikes on Syria regime targets

- Bolivia -

Bolivian President Evo Morales blasted President Trump specifically for the US-led attack on Syria overnight Saturday.

"With the strength of dignity, of the people of the world, we condemn the outrageous attack by Trump against Syria," Morales said.

- China -

China said Saturday it was "opposed to the use of force" following US-led air strikes against Syria and called for a "return to the framework of international law".

"We consistently oppose the use of force in international relations, and advocate respect for the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of all countries," foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said in a statement on its website.

"China believes that a political solution is the only realistic way out for the Syrian issue," she added.

"China urges all the relevant parties to return to the framework of international law and to resolve the issue through dialogue and consultation."

China is one of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council.

Beijing has consistently said the Syrian crisis needs a "political solution" but has numerous times vetoed Security Council measures aimed at addressing the conflict -- including an investigation of war crimes in the country.

- EU -

European Council President Donald Tusk said Saturday the European Union stood by the United States, France and Britain over their air strikes against the regime in Syria for alleged chemical attacks.

"Strikes by US, France and UK make it clear that Syrian regime together with Russia and Iran cannot continue this human tragedy, at least not without cost. The EU will stand with our allies on the side of justice," Tusk said in a Twitter message.

- France -

French President Emmanuel Macron has said Paris has "proof" the Syrian regime used chemical weapons, a claim denied by the Damascus government.

Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said of the strike that "a large part of its [Syria's] chemical arsenal has been destroyed."

He also said France had "solid intelligence" that the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was behind the gas attack in the rebel-held city of Douma last weekend that killed 40.

- Hezbollah -

Lebanese movement Hezbollah sharply condemned the barrage of US, French, and British air strikes on its ally Syria on Saturday, saying they would not achieve their objectives.

"America's war against Syria, and against the region's peoples and resistance movement, will not achieve its aims," the group said in a statement published on its War Media Channel.

- Iran -

Iran warned of "regional consequences" on Saturday following a wave of punitive strikes in Syria by the United States, Britain and France.

"The United States and its allies have no proof and, without even waiting for the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons to take a position, have carried out this military attack," said the foreign ministry in a statement.

They "are responsible for the regional consequences of this adventurist action," it added.

Iran is the key backer alongside Russia of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, providing military advisors and "volunteer" ground forces.

Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei denounced US President Donald Trump, France's Emmanuel Macron and Britain's Theresa May after they launched strikes Saturday against the Syrian regime, branding them "criminals".

"The attack this morning against Syria is a crime," Khamenei said in remarks published on his Telegram channel. "The American president, the French president and the British prime minister are criminals."

- Iraq -

A statement by foreign ministry spokesman Ahmad Mahjoub said the strikes' "consequences threaten the security and stability of the region".

Mahjoub said the raids carried out by the United States, France and Britain were "a very dangerous development... that will provide an opportunity for the expansion of terrorism after it was destroyed in Iraq and largely pushed back in Syria".

He said the ministry was "worried" and called for a "political solution that would satisfy the aspirations of the Syrian people".

Iraq's foreign ministry also called on an Arab League summit to be held on Sunday in Saudi Arabia to "adopt a clear position concerning this dangerous development".

The Iraqi government declared victory over the Islamic State group, which it considers a terrorist organisation, in December after pushing IS jihadists out of their final holdouts along the border with Syria.

But the group retains the capacity to strike despite losing control of vast swathes of Iraqi territory it seized in 2014 and still clings to pockets of desert in war-torn Syria.

- Israel -

Punitive US-led strikes on Syria are justified because of the "murderous actions" of the Damascus government, an Israeli official said Saturday.

"Last year (US) President Donald Trump said that the use of chemical weapons would violate a red line. This night, under America's guidance, the United States, France and Britain acted accordingly (because) Syria continues to carry out its murderous actions," the official, who declined to be identified, said.

"Syria also serves as a base to carry out such action, namely on behalf of Iran, endangering its territory, its forces and its leadership," the official added.

Public radio said that Israel had been informed ahead of time of the strikes that were carried out by the United States, France and Britain.

Tensions have been running high between Israel and its arch-foe Iran, after seven Iranian personnel were killed in an early-morning strike Monday attributed to Israel on the T-4 airbase in Syria.

"I congratulate Presidents Trump and Macron and Prime Minister Thersea May, who led the attack on Assad's chemical weapons facilities," Yair Lapid, Israeli lawmaker and Chairman of the Yesh Atid Party, said.

"Israel will continue to act in all ways against Iranian presence in Syria, and will not accept dictates from any party in the region regarding the vital interests of its security."

- Jordan -

Jordan reacted by suggesting a 'political solution' as the only proper course towards Syria's security.

The foreign minister said, "we affirm the need to launch sincere efforts to reach a political solution."

- Palestinians -

Fatah called for diplomacy as the only solution in Syria outside of external interference.

"We affirm our stand with the unity of Syrian territory and reject efforts aimed at disobeying or harm the unity and sovereignty," Fatah said in a statement.

The Islamic Jihad Movement in Palestine condemned the attack as meant to further suppress the Palestinians.

"Western tripartite aggression against Syria, which aims to provide more support for the occupation and encourage its brutal policies against the Palestinians."

Hamas condemned the US-led strikes in Syria as 'a blatant aggression' to 'preserve the existence of the Zionist entity'

- Russia -

The Kremlin on Saturday condemned Western air strikes on Syria where its armed forces are backing President Bashar al-Assad.

Moscow also said it was calling an emergency session of the United Nations Security Council, where it is a permanent member, to discuss the "aggressive actions" of the US and its allies.

The military said that 103 cruise missiles were fired including Tomahawk missiles but that Syrian air defense systems managed to intercept 71 cruise missiles.

- Saudi Arabia -

Saudi Arabia on Saturday expressed its full support for US-led strikes on Syrian government military installations, saying they were a response to "regime crimes" against civilians.

The statement, carried by the official Saudi Press Agency, said the strikes were prompted by the "Syrian regime's use of chemical weapons against innocent civilians, including women and children".

Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states have been key backers of Syrian opposition groups fighting President Bashar al-Assad.

- Syria -

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said Western strikes on government military installations Saturday "will only make Syria and its people more determined to keep fighting and crushing terrorism in every inch of the country."

The US, France, and Britain launched a volley of strikes Saturday morning on positions around the capital Damascus and the central city of Homs.

Assad suggested that the strikes came as the West realized that it had lost control and credibility in the conflict.

- Syrian Rebels -

A prominent Syrian rebel faction said on Saturday that Western strikes against government positions were a "farce" as long as President Bashar al-Assad remained in power.

"Punishing the instrument of the crime while keeping the criminal -- a farce," wrote Mohammad Alloush, a key member of the Jaish al-Islam rebel group.

Jaish al-Islam was in control of the town of Douma, the site of the alleged chemical attack that prompted Western military action.

- Turkey -

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday welcomed Western strikes against Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad's regime as "appropriate" in retaliation for Damascus' "inhumane" attacks. 

"We consider this operation as appropriate," Erdogan told a meeting of his ruling party in Istanbul. 

"The regime has seen that its mounting attacks in recent days against dissidents... will not be left unanswered."

In an earlier statement, the foreign ministry said the strikes were an "appropriate response." 

"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.

Ankara said the attacks, with weapons of mass destruction, including chemical weapons, that indiscriminately target civilians, "constitute crimes against humanity" and they should not go unpunished.

"The Syrian regime, which has been tyrannizing its own people for more than seven years, be it with conventional or chemical weapons, has a proven track record of crimes against humanity and war crimes," the ministry said.

Turkey is a vocal critic of Assad's regime in Damascus and backed rebels fighting for his ouster bun recent months it has closely worked with Russia for a political solution in Syria even though Moscow remains a chief ally of the regime.

A spokesperson for Turkey's Justice and Development (AKP) said that Turkey was aware of US, British and French strikes on Syria.

- UN -

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Saturday called for restraint and for countries to avoid any acts that could escalate the situation in Syria after the United States, France and Britain carried out air strikes.

"I urge all member states to show restraint in these dangerous circumstances and to avoid any acts that could escalate the situation and worsen the suffering of the Syrian people," Guterres said in a statement.

- UK -

British Prime Minister Theresa May also called the strikes "right and legal", saying the international community would not tolerate the continued use of chemical weapons.

"This collective action sends a clear message that the international community will not stand by and tolerate the use of chemical weapons," May told a press conference.

She said that at an emergency cabinet meeting in London on Thursday "we agreed that it was both right and legal to take military action" after hearing legal advice.

Asked why she had proceeded without consulting parliament, May said,"It was right to take the action that we have done in the timing that we have done."

"While the full assessment of the strike is ongoing, we are confident of its success....We have hit a specific and limited set of targets," May added.

The British Prime Minister said she would address parliament on Monday about the strikes.

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