ANKARA: Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan welcomed US, British and French forces’ airstrikes on Syria, saying that the operation sent a message to Syrian counterpart Bashar al-Assad.
“With the joint operation by US, U.K. and France on Saturday, the Syrian regime received the message that its massacres wouldn’t be left unanswered,” Erdogan told his ruling AK Party supporters in an Istanbul meeting.
“The innocent Syrian people should have been defended long ago,” Erdogan added.
The United States, France and Britain said they launched the air strikes against Syrian government military installations in response to a suspected chemical weapons attack by the regime a week ago — a claim dismissed by Damascus and its allies Russia and Iran.
Moments after President Donald Trump finished his address on Friday night, reports emerged of explosions in Damascus at about 2am BST. A Pentagon briefing later confirmed three sites were hit: two in Damascus and one in Homs. The sites were all regarded as linked to the storage, or testing, of chemical weapons. Syrian air defences responded to the strikes but the US said it had suffered no losses in the initial airstrikes.
The Russian president, Vladimir Putin, has described the strikes as an “act of aggression” and said the attack would worsen the humanitarian crisis in Syria. Anatoly Antonov, the Russian ambassador to the US, said “such actions will not be left without consequences” and that Moscow was being threatened.
Trump said the attack in Douma a week ago represented “a significant escalation in a pattern of chemical weapons use” by the Assad regime, adding: “We are prepared to sustain this response until the Syrian regime stops its use of prohibited chemical agents.”