Israel’s political echelon expressed praise for a joint US, British and French attack on Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal over Friday night.
“This morning, led by the Americans, the US, Britain, and France proved that their commitment to the fight against chemical weapons is not limited to statements only,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said.
“A year ago, I made clear that Israel fully supports the decision by US President Donald Trump to stand against the use and dissemination of chemical weapons,” Netanyahu added in a statement on Saturday. “Trump’s determination and Israel’s support stands unchanged.”
Israeli Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office, Michael Oren praised Trump’s leadership in Friday’s night strike.
“The fact that President Trump successfully put together a joint Western attack with the UK and France against Assad’s chemical weapon targets is another impressive achievement that strengthens his power and the legitimacy of his actions,” he said in a statement.
Israeli officials also alluded to the strong message conveyed against the Iranian-led axis in the region.
“The American strike is an important signal to the axis of evil — Iran, Syria and Hezbollah,” tweeted Housing Minister, Yoav Gallant in Hebrew.
“It should be clear to President Assad that his reckless efforts to acquire and use weapons of mass destruction, his wanton disregard for international law and his provision of a forward base for Iran and its proxies endanger Syria,” Netanyahu remarked.
Trump’s Decision to Strike
Trump announced his strikes in a televised address to the nation.
“A short time ago, I ordered the United States armed forces to launch precision strikes on targets associated with the chemical weapons capabilities of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad,” Trump said in a televised address. “A combined operation with the armed forces of France and the United Kingdom is now underway. We thank them both. This massacre was a significant escalation in a pattern of chemical weapons use by that very terrible regime.”
The presidential address also contained a stern rebuke to Russia and Iran for their support of the regime of Syrian President Bashar Al Assad.
“What kind of nation wants to be associated with the mass murder of men, women, and children?” the president said, reminding listeners that in 2013, Russia had assured the world that Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal had been dismantled. “Assad’s recent attack and today’s response are a direct result of Russia’s failure to keep that promise.”
“Hopefully, someday we’ll get along with Russia and maybe even Iran,” Trump said. “But maybe not.”
A perfectly executed strike last night. Thank you to France and the United Kingdom for their wisdom and the power of their fine Military. Could not have had a better result. Mission Accomplished!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 14, 2018
The president ended his address with a call for prayer.
“Tonight I ask all Americans to say a prayer for our noble warriors and our allies as they carry out their missions. We pray that God will bring comfort to those suffering in Syria. We pray that God will guide the whole region toward a future of dignity and of peace. We pray that God will continue to watch over and bless the United States of America.”
General Joseph Dunford, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the strikes hit a scientific research center near Damascus, a storage facility and command post also near the capital and a chemical weapons storage facility near Homs. He said Syrian surface to air missile batteries (SAM) had fired, but there were no initial reports of any allied losses. The facilities hit had reportedly been evacuated in recent days. Russia’s defense ministry said there were “no victims” among Syrian civilians and military personnel.
“We successfully hit every target,” Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White told reporters at a press conference. “The strikes were justified, legitimate, and proportionate.”
Also at the conference, Lieutenant General Kenneth McKenzie, the director of the Joint Staff, said three sites that are “fundamental components of the regime’s chemical weapons infrastructure” were struck, setting back Syria’s chemical weapons program “for years.”
The Russian military said that 103 cruise missiles were fired including Tomahawk missiles, but that Syrian air defense systems managed to intercept 71 cruise missiles. The Pentagon on Saturday said all the targets in Syria were successfully hit and there were no interceptions.
Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May clarified her nation’s motives in joining the US-led strike.
“This evening I have authorized British armed forces to conduct coordinated and targeted strikes to degrade the Syrian regime’s chemical weapons capability and deter their use,” she said in a statement. “This is not about intervening in a civil war. It is not about regime change. It is about a limited and targeted strike that does not further escalate tensions in the region and that does everything possible to prevent civilian casualties.”
Russia responded by calling for a special meeting of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to condemn the strike. The letter presented to the UNSC said that Russia “condemns the aggression against the Syrian Arab Republic by the US and its allies in violation of international law and the UN Charter.”
“[Russia] demands that the US and its allies immediately and without delay cease the aggression against the Syrian Arab Republic and demands also to refrain from any further use of force in violation of international law and the UN charter.”
US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley was undaunted and threatened further actions should the chemical attacks continue.
“If the Syrian regime uses this poisonous gas again, the United States is locked and loaded,” US Ambassador Nikki Haley told the UNSC.