“Last Saturday the Assad regime again deployed chemical weapons to slaughter innocent civilians this time in the town of Douma near the Syrian capital of Damascus. This massacre was a significant escalation in a pattern of chemical weapons use.”
“The evil and the despicable attack left mothers and fathers, infants and children, thrashing in pain and gasping for air. These are not the actions of a man, they are crimes of a monster instead,” he said
“The purpose of our actions tonight is to establish a strong deterrent against the production, spread and use of chemical weapons. We are prepared to sustain this response until the Syrian regime stops its use of prohibited chemical agents,” he added.
Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis called the strikes as a “one-time shot,” adding that “Right now we have no additional attacks planned.”
British Prime Minister Theresa May said that Britain had no choice but to use “limited and targeted” military force.
“This is not about intervening in a civil war. It is not about regime change,” she soon after the strikes.
“While this action is specifically about deterring the Syrian regime, it will also send a clear signal to anyone else who believes they can use chemical weapons with impunity.”
On the other hand, leader of the British Labour Party called the strikes “legally questionable” and criticised May for following Donald Trump and not taking the parliament into account.
“Bombs won’t save lives or bring about peace. Britain should be playing a leadership role to bring about a ceasefire in the conflict, not taking instructions from Washington and putting British military personnel in harm’s way,” he said.
Meanwhile, First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon offered her own view on Twitter.
“In Douma, dozens of men, women and children were massacred with chemical weapons, in a total violation of international law,” said French President Emmanuel Macron.
“The red line set by France has been crossed. I therefore ordered the French armed forces to intervene tonight against the clandestine chemical arsenal of the Syrian regime.”
The French military said that 12 missiles were fired with little indication of interceptions. Rafale, Mirage 2000, Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) support systems and frigates were used in the attack.
Syrian state television criticised the strikes and said that 13 missiles were shot down and there were only material losses during the raids. President Bashar al-Assad said that the strikes will not dampen his resolve to “fight and crush terrorism in every inch” of Syria.
The attacks were “a flagrant violation of international law and demonstrate the contempt of these countries for this law,” Syrian state media said.
“Such attacks will not deter our armed forces and allied forces from persisting to crush what is left of the armed terrorist groups,” said the Syrian military.
A video, titled “Morning of Steadfastness” was released by the Syrian presidency on Twitter showing Bashar al-Assad arriving at the People’s Palace in Damascus after the strikes.
On the other hand, Syrian opposition leader Nasra al-Hariri called for an end to all use of force by the Syrian government.
“Maybe the regime will not use chemical weapons again, but it will not hesitate to use weapons the international community has allowed it, such as barrel bombs and cluster bombs,” he said.
Russian President Vladimir Putin called the strikes “An act of aggression,” adding that the strikes had a “destructive influence on the entire system of international relations” and reiterated Russian position that purported evidence of chemical weapons use was fake. He also criticsed the US for launching the strike without waiting for investigations by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to be completed.
Colonel-General Sergei Rudskoi also said that Russia was considering supplying S-300 missile systems to Syria and other countries.
Moscow has called for an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council over the incident. In addition, Russian Ambassador to the US Anatoly Antonov warned that “such actions will not be left without consequences.”
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said that “Today’s dawn attack on Syria is a crime. I clearly declare that the president of the United States, the president of France and the British prime minister are criminals.”
“They will not benefit (from the attack) as they went to Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan in the past years and committed such crimes and did not gain any benefits,” he added.
“The Syrian people will certainly answer these attacks and the people of the world should condemn this aggression,” said Iranian Defence Minister Hossein Dehghan.
An Iranian foreign ministry statement said that “Undoubtedly, the United States and its allies, which took military action against Syria despite the absence of any proven evidence … will assume responsibility for the regional and trans-regional consequences of this adventurism.”
Turkish foreign ministry, in response to the strikes said that “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 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 conscience of the international community carries no doubt to that effect,” it added.
Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag denied reports that Turkey’s Incirlik Air Base was used in the strikes and “Ending arm wrestling and finding a political solution are obligatory in Syria,” he tweeted.
“The American attack is an important signal to the axis of evil – Iran, Syria and Hezbollah,” said Israel’s Security Cabinet member Yoav Gallant.
“The use of chemical weapons crosses a red line that humanity can no longer tolerate,” he added.