U.S.-led airstrikes against Syrian chemical targets drew words of support across the globe Saturday — mixed with some condemnation — hours after explosions rumbled through the capital of Damascus.
The strikes, led in partnership with Britain and France, hit Syria one week after reports of a horrific chemical attack in the town of Douma that led to the deaths of men, women and children, many of whom are believed to have suffocated.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian defended the action as legitimate and necessary to end a “chemical escalation” in Syria he said was not acceptable because it violated the rules of war and of humanity.
British Prime Minister Theresa May stressed that the military action was targeted and limited. She described the attack as neither “about intervening in a civil war” nor “about regime change” — but a strike that “does not further escalate tensions in the region” and does everything possible to prevent civilian casualties.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said her country supported the action, calling the strikes "necessary and appropriate."
The European Union also stood with the U.S. "Strikes by US, France and UK make it clear that Syrian regime together with Russia & Iran cannot continue this human tragedy, at least not without cost. The EU will stand with our allies on the side of justice," EU President Donald Tusk tweeted.
Israel’s government issued a statement calling the joint strike “appropriate."
“Last year, President Trump made it clear that using chemical weapons crossed a red line. Tonight, led by the Americans, the US, France and Britain acted appropriately,” the statement said, according to the Times of Israel.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also backed the action. "Canada condemns in the strongest possible terms the use of chemical weapons in last week’s attack in eastern Ghouta, Syria," he said in a statement.
Russia, a staunch Syrian ally, was quick to denounce the operation. President Vladimir Putin called the strikes an "act of aggression" that was “destructive for the entire system of international relations," according to a statement on the Kremlin's website. Putin also repeated Russia's claim that a chemical attack in Douma was fake.
Russia’s U.S. embassy released a statement saying "all responsibility" lies with Washington, London and Paris and the military action will “not be left without consequences.”
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called the airstrikes a “crime” and labeled the leaders of the U.S., France and the U.K. as “criminals,” according to Iran’s state-run IRNA news agency. The Iranian Foreign Ministry also condemned the strike and warned of unspecified consequences.
In China, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said the action could further complicate issues in Syria.
"Any unilateral military action that bypasses the Security Council runs contrary to the purpose and principles of the United Nations charter,” Hua said, calling for world powers to resolve the Syria conflict through dialogue and negotiation.