EU and Nato welcome US strike on Syria

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Senior officials at the EU and Nato have welcomed US president Donald Trump’s first major intervention in Syria, bombing targets of president Bashar al-Assad this morning.

Donald Tusk, president of the European Council, backed the air strikes saying the move demonstrated resolve against gas attack on civilians which killed 70 earlier this week.

“US strikes show needed resolve against barbaric chemical attacks,” Mr Tusk said on Twitter.

“[The] EU will work with the US to end brutality in Syria.”

Nato’s top civilian, Jens Stoltenberg, said the Syrian regime bore “full responsibility” for the US strike against Shayrat Airfield.

“Nato has consistently condemned Syria’s continued use of chemical weapons as a clear breach of international norms and agreements,” Mr Stoltenberg said in a statement.

“Any use of chemical weapons is unacceptable, cannot go unanswered, and those responsible must be held accountable. Nato considers the use of chemical weapons as a threat to international peace and security. Nato supports all international efforts aimed at achieving peace and a political solution in Syria.”

The military action was also welcomed by Anders Fogh, Rasmussen, former secretary general of Nato.

“By taking a measured and proportionate action the US has sent a powerful signal that it will enforce its red lines and back up words with actions,” Mr Rasmussen said.

“This warning will be heard far beyond Damascus.”

Paolo Gentiloni, Italy’s prime minister, backed the strike as a “response motivated by a war crime”, but urged a quick return to the negotiating table under the umbrella of the UN.

“The images of death and suffering that we have seen in the past days after the use of chemical weapons are images that we cannot accept to see again,” Mr Gentiloni said in a statement from Palazzo Chigi, the seat of the Italian government in Rome.

“The US has defined its action as targeted and limited, and not a step towards military escalation. Italy has always been convinced that a lasting solution to the Syrian crisis must be found in negotiations,” he added.

Mr Gentiloni’s comments came as opposition parties in Italy, many of who have cheered on both US president Donald Trump and Russian president Vladimir Putin, roundly attacked the air strikes.

Meanwhile, Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission, said Washington has informed the EU that the strikes on Syria “were limited” and sought to deter further chemical weapons atrocities.

“The repeated use of such weapons must be answered,” the commission said.

“[Mr Juncker] understands efforts to deter further attacks. There is a clear distinction between air strikes on military targets and the use of chemical weapons against civilians. Efforts to stem the spiral of violence in Syria and work towards a lasting peace should be redoubled.”

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