Following the Saturday airstrikes that targeted military and research facilities believed to be used by the Syrian regime to stage chemical attacks on civilians, divided opinions dominated the political sphere all over the world.
The airstrikes, which were launched by the United States, the United Kingdom, and France, targeted military headquarters of Bashar Al-Assad’s regime in Damascus and Douma. The strikes were heavily condemned by Iran and Russia, close allies of the Al-Assad regime.
Russia’s ambassador the United States, Anatoly Antonov, said, “such actions will not be left without consequences,” and, “all responsibility for them rests upon Washington, London, and Paris.”
The Russian Foreign Affairs Committee also added that the Syria strikes were an attempt to block a probe by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which was scheduled to begin looking into the alleged poison gas attack on Saturday 14 April. Moscow also condemned the airstrikes as a violation of international law.
Russia’s Defence Ministry said that none of the strikes on Syria had hit areas near its naval or air bases, though news agencies reported that the Syrian government had responded to the air attack with surface-to-air-missiles.
Syrian state media also slammed the strikes as a “flagrant violation of international law” and said they were “doomed to fail.” It also reported that three civilians had been injured during the attack on a military base in Homs, while another strike on a scientific research centre was restricted to material losses.
The aftermath of the attack saw hundreds of pro-government Syrians take to a main square in Damascus on Saturday morning in a show of defiance against the US, French, and British airstrikes launched that dawn, AFP reported.
Many honked car horns and waved the Syrian flag along with those of Syrian government allies Russia and Iran, as those two countries roundly condemned the air attacks as violations of international law, according to SANA.
Al-Assad was shown on state-owned media walking into his office. The official page of the Syrian Arab Army quoted Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, describing the airstrikes as a “crime.”
Iran’s Foreign Ministry also issued a statement saying: “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.” It added that while Iran opposes the use of chemical weapons, it “strongly condemns [using this] as an excuse to commit aggression against a sovereign state.”
Meanwhile, British Prime Minister Theresa May said there was “no practicable alternative to the use of force to degrade and deter the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime,” in a statement issued shortly after US President Donald Trump announced the attack in televised remarks from the White House.
“I judge this action to be in Britain’s national interest. We cannot allow the use of chemical weapons to become normalised—within Syria, on the streets of the UK, or anywhere else in our world. We would have preferred an alternative path. But on this occasion there is none,” she said.
Similarly, French President Emmanuel Macron said the alleged chemical attack that killed dozens of civilians was in “total violation of international law.”
“The red line declared by France in May 2017 has been crossed,” he said in a statement. “I have therefore ordered the French armed forces to intervene, as part of an international operation conducted in coalition with the United States of America and the United Kingdom against the clandestine chemical weapons arsenal of the Syrian regime.”
All three Western allies had said this week that they had evidence Al-Assad’s government had executed the attack, and that the regime had to “pay the price.”
The Saudi Arabian Foreign Ministry has expressed the kingdom’s support for the US-led airstrikes on chemical weapons facilities in Syria on Saturday. The ministry said in a statement: “we fully support military operations against military targets in Syria.”
Egypt, on the other hand, has expressed its concern over the latest attacks, especially regarding its effects on Syrian civilians. The Foreign Ministry also said that such an attack might affect previous efforts to maintain stability in the region.