The U.S. military launched 59 missiles from two Navy ships in the Mediterranean last week against the Shayrat base, near the city of Homs in Syria.
The strike, which is the first direct U.S. military action against forces commanded by the Syrian president Bachar al-Assad, is being labeled as a response to the April 4 suspected chemical attack on civilians in the northwestern province of Idlib, which killed at least 90 people including 30 children in Khan Sheikhoun, according to Reuters.
When announcing the strikes, U.S. president Donald Trump described the suspected chemical attack as "very barbaric" and said the decision would "prevent and deter the spread and use of deadly chemical weapons," The New York Times reported.
The decision to launch the military attack on the Syrian airbase has the world divided. While many governments shared official statements of support, others declared their condemnation.
The world divided
The countries that released official statements in support of the airstrike include:
- Saudi Arabia
- United Arab Emirates
- United Kingdom
The countries that released official statements condemning the attack include:
Countries that remained neutral or undecided:
Official statements of support
The United Kingdom's government released a statement shortly after the attack stating that it fully supports the airstrike and sees it as "an appropriate response to the barbaric chemical weapons attack launched by the Syrian regime.”
Germany and France also declared their support in a joint statement by Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel and France's President François Hollande.
Turkey hailed the attack in a statement made by a spokesman for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan who said that "the destruction of Sharyat airbase marks an important step to ensure that chemical and conventional attacks against the civilian population do not go unpunished.”
Similarly, Saudi Arabia’s government stated that it "fully supports" the missile strikes and called the move a "courageous decision" by President Trump.
Australia’s prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull reiterated his country's support. "This was a calibrated, proportionate and targeted response. It sends a strong message to the Assad regime, and ... has been struck at the very airfield from which the chemical attack was delivered," he said.
The UAE's foreign affairs minister also released a statement in support of the attack, saying that a response to the Syrian government's "blatant violation of international and humanitarian conventions" is needed.
Jordan's government spokesman Mohammad Momani said Jordan considers the strike "a necessary and appropriate response to the nonstop targeting of innocent civilians."
Italy’s foreign minister, Angelino Alfano stated that “Italy understands the reasons for the U.S. military action.” However opposition parties in the country condemned the strikes.
Poland hailed the attack as well. A spokesman for the Polish government said that the "United States was a guarantor of world peace and that there were times when you needed to react."
Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu released a statement in support of the airstrikes, saying that “President Trump sent a strong and clear message" with his decision to take military action against the Syrian government.
Official statements of condemnation
The office of President Bachar al-Assad condemned the U.S. strikes, labeling the decision behind them as "reckless" and "irresponsible."
Russia’s leader, Vladimir Putin, described the U.S. strikes as “an act of aggression against a sovereign state delivered in violation of international law under a far-fetched pretext.”
Iran's Foreign Ministry released a statement saying that the “unilateral action is dangerous, destructive and violates the principles of international law.”
Bolivia also condemned the attack and requested a United Nations Security Council meeting to discuss the US' airstrikes.
Neutral or undecided
According to The New York Times, China played it neutral on the strikes, with Hua Chunying of the Chinese Foreign Ministry saying, “We hope all sides will stay calm and exercise restraint to prevent the escalation of tension.”
Similarly, Sweden’s foreign minister, Margot Wallstrom, said the attack “raises questions about how this could be compatible with international law.”