British Prime Minister Theresa May and French President Emmanuel Macron defended their coordinated strike with the U.S. on the Syrian regime Friday night, calling it a necessary move to stop the regime’s use of chemical weapons.
In a statement, May accused the Syrian government of “using weapons against its own people in the most cruel and abhorrent way.”
“The persistent pattern of behavior must be stopped,” May said of the regime’s suspected chemical attack on the Syrian town of Douma.
“Not just to protect innocent people in Syria from the horrific deaths and casualties caused by chemical weapons, but also because we cannot allow the erosion of the international norm that prevents the use of these weapons.”
May said that Britain has “sought to use every possible diplomatic channel” to stop the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad, “but our efforts have been repeatedly thwarted.”
“We would have preferred an alternative path,” May added. “But on this occasion, there is none.”
Marcon said that France’s “red line has been crossed” after last week’s chemical attack in Syria.
In a statement, Macron echoed May’s call for the end of chemical weapons.
“Our response is limited to the Syrian regime’s capabilities to produce and use chemical weapons,” Macron said. “We cannot tolerate the normalization of the use of chemical weapons, which is a direct threat to the security of the Syrian people and our collective security.”
After U.S. President Donald Trump announced the joint attack with France and the United Kingdom, the Syrian presidency Twitter account tweeted: “Good souls will not be humiliated.”
“Canada condemns in the strongest possible terms the use of chemical weapons in last week’s attack in eastern Ghouta, Syria,” Trudeau said.
“Canada supports the decision by the United States, the United Kingdom, and France to take action to degrade the Assad regime’s ability to launch chemical weapons attacks against its own people.
“We will continue to work with our international partners to further investigate the use of chemical weapons in Syria. Those responsible must be brought to justice.”
Jens Stoltenberg, the secretary-general of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, said the joint attack on the “chemical weapons facilities and capabilities … will reduce the regime’s ability” to launch further chemical attacks.
“Those responsible must be held accountable,” he tweeted, along with a link to his statement.
“The purpose of our actions tonight is to establish a strong deterrent against the production, spread and use of chemical weapons,” Trump said in the Friday announcement.
“We are prepared to sustain this response until the Syrian regime stops its use of prohibited chemical agents.”
The U.S., France and Britain have accused the Russian-backed Syrian government of launching a suspected chemical attack in the then rebel-held town of Douma last week. The attack left about 70 people dead.
The Syrian state has denied that its forces launched a chemical attack and accused rebels of fabricating reports of the attack in order to drum up international support for its fight against the regime.
In his address to the American people, Trump singled out Iran and Russia for supporting the Syrian regime and partially blamed the countries for the chemical attack.
“I also have a message tonight for the two governments most responsible for supporting, equipping and financing the criminal Assad regime,” Trump said. “To Iran and to Russia I ask: What kind of nation wants to be associated with the mass murder of innocent men, women and children?”
“President Putin and his government promised the world that they would guarantee the elimination of Syria’s chemical weapons,” Trump continued.
“Assad’s recent attack and today’s response are the direct result of Russia’s failure to keep that promise. Russia must decide if it will continue down this dark path or if it will join with civilized nations as a force of stability and peace.”
This article has been updated with comment from Syria.