Russian President Vladimir Putin has denounced a strike on Syria launched by the United States and its allies as an “act of aggression” that will exacerbate humanitarian catastrophe in Syria.
In a statement issued by the Kremlin, the Russian leader says Moscow is calling an emergency meeting of the United Nations’ Security Council over the strike launched by the US, Britain and France.
Putin added that the strike had a “destructive influence on the entire system of international relations.” He reaffirmed Russia’s view that a purported chemical attack in the Syrian town of Douma that prompted the strike was a fake.
Putin said that Russian military experts who inspected Douma found no trace of the attack. He criticised the US and its allies for launching the strike without waiting for inspectors from the international chemical weapons watchdog to visit the area.
Israel says in response to the American-led strike in Syria that the Middle Eastern country’s “murderous actions” put itself in danger.
An official says in a statement today that President Donald Trump made clear last year that the use of chemical weapons was a red line not to be crossed.
He says the overnight operation carried out by the United States, France and Britain followed that example.
The official says that “Syria continues to carry out murderous actions and be a base for these actions and others, including Iran’s, that put its territory, forces and leadership in peril.”
The official spoke anonymously according to protocol. There has been no other official Israeli response yet.
Israel has issued several stern warnings of late about Iran’s increased involvement along its border in Syria in Lebanon.
British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has expressed his support for the airstrikes on Syria authorised by Prime Minister Theresa May.
Johnson tweeted today that he welcomed the news of the military strike against major chemical weapons facilities in Syria in concert with “our US and French allies.”
Johnson said: “The world is united in its disgust for any use of chemical weapons, but especially against civilians.” May authorised the strikes without a vote from Parliament, which has been in recess. She had received support from her Cabinet in a crisis session.
The US, France and Britain launched military strikes in Syria to punish President Bashar Assad for an apparent chemical attack against civilians and to deter him from doing it again, Trump said.
Syrians crowded onto the streets in noisy demonstrations of defiance afterward and their ally Russia denounced the attack. Pentagon officials said the attacks targeted the heart of Assad’s programs to develop and produce chemical weapons.
Syrian television reported that Syria’s air defences, which are substantial, responded to the attack. Defence Secretary Jim Mattis said there were no reports of US losses in what he described as a heavy but carefully limited assault.
Germany backs ‘necessary and appropriate’ strikes in Syria: Merkel
erman Chancellor Angela Merkel said the air strikes against the Syrian regime were “necessary and appropriate” after the suspected chemical weapons attacks that killed dozens in Douma.
“We support the fact that our US, British and French allies … assumed their responsibilities. The military intervention was necessary and appropriate,” Merkel said in a statement.
“Everything leads us to believe that (Assad) bears responsibility” for the Douma attack, Merkel said.
The chancellor on Thursday had ruled out Germany joining any military action against Syria.
Today she said it appeared likely that the Syrian regime “had used chemical weapons against its own people on several occasions in the past”.
Merkel added: “A century after the end of World War I… we must fight against the erosion of the (international) convention on chemical weapons”.
“Germany will undertake, in a determined way, diplomatic efforts to support this,” Merkel said.
Syria says Western attack ‘doomed to fail’:
Syrian state media slammed Western strikes today as illegal and “doomed to fail,” after the US, France, and Britain launched a joint operation against the Damascus government.
“The aggression is a flagrant violation of international law, a breach of the international community’s will, and it is doomed to fail,” said state news agency SANA.
Huge blasts were reported around Damascus early today, moments after the US, France, and Britain announced they were striking Syria’s chemical weapons capabilities.
AFP’s correspondent in Damascus said several consecutive blasts were heard at 4:00 am local time, followed by the sound of airplanes overhead. Smoke could be seen emerging from the northern and eastern edges of the capital.
SANA reported that the joint operation was targeting military installations around Damascus and near the central city of Homs.
It said three civilians were wounded in the Homs attacks but did not give a toll for Damascus or mention any combatant casualties.
Several missiles hit a research centre in Barzeh, north of Damascus, “destroying a building that included scientific labs and a training centre,” SANA reported.
State media published images of a cloud of reddish smoke hanging over the capital and said that air defences were activated to block the attack.
But it said skies were clear over Aleppo in the north, Hasakeh in the northeast, and Latakia and Tartus along the western coast, where key Syrian and Russian military installations are located.
Western powers blamed President Bashar al-Assad, but Syria and its ally Russia categorically denied the claims and accused the West of “fabricating” the incident to justify military action.
The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons was set to begin its investigation inside the Eastern Ghouta town of Douma on Saturday, just hours after the strikes.
Syrian state media accused Western powers of trying to hinder the investigation with their attack.
“The three aggressors preempted the OPCW’s mission in Ghouta, with the aim of hiding their lie,” SANA said today. (Input PTI)