THE LATEST: Kremlin calls U.S. missile strike on Syria "aggression against sovereign state"
BEIRUT—The Latest on events in Syria (all times local):
French President Francois Hollande is convening an emergency defence meeting to discuss next steps in Syria after U.S. airstrikes targeting President Bashar Assad's government.
Hollande said he will hold the meeting with top security officials in Paris on Friday, as France tries to relaunch international peace negotiations for Syria. He called the U.S. airstrikes a response to a chemical weapons attack that Western powers blame on Assad's forces.
French warplanes are active in the U.S.-led coalition against Islamic State extremists and France has long called for Assad's departure, but French diplomats have pushed this week for resumed peace talks instead of international intervention.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said the U.S. bombing was a warning to Assad's allies Russia and Iran.
Russia's foreign minister says no Russian servicemen have been hurt in a U.S. strike on a Syrian air base.
Sergey Lavrov said Friday that he was unaware of any Russian military casualties at the air base hit by U.S. cruise missiles.
Lavrov, speaking on a trip to Uzbekistan, strongly condemned the U.S. strike saying it violates international law.
Russian state TV aired the footage showing the damage from the U.S. strikes at the Syrian air base. It showed craters and pockmarks left by explosions and said that nine Syrian air force jets have been destroyed in the attack.
Syria's state TV is showing footage of the U.S. missile strike on a Syrian air base in the country's centre, showing a fast sequence of orange flashes that lit the dark sky in the distance before the crack of dawn.
The shaky footage, apparently filmed with a mobile phone camera and aired Friday, came hours after about 60 U.S. Tomahawk missiles hit the base in Homs province, causing extensive damage to the base.
In a different sequence after day break, the Syrian TV station al-Ikhbariyah showed another short clip of smoke billowing in the distance, hovering over a raging fire, the tip of which emerges and a forest of trees is in the foreground.
The Syrian government said at least six people were killed, and several wounded in the attack. Activists say the air base, hangars, fuel depot and aircraft were badly damaged. A government official said a fire raged for over an hour.
The attack is the first by U.S. aircraft against the Syrian army since the war began. The U.S is also leading an international coalition against Islamic State group militants in Syria.
Israel's president says the U.S. strike on Syria was an “appropriate response” to the “unthinkable brutality” of the chemical attacks in Syria this week that killed dozens of civilians.
Reuven Rivlin said Friday the U.S. “serves as an example to the entire free world” to support steps to end atrocities in Syria.
Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman said President Trump sent a message that “war crimes” by Syrian President Bashar Assad will not be tolerated.
The country's opposition leader Isaac Herzog told Channel 10 TV that he doesn't believe the strike will impact Israel.
Israel has repeatedly warned against “game-changing” weapons reaching Hezbollah in Lebanon from Syria, which along with Iran supports the militant group. It has carried out a number of airstrikes on suspected weapon convoys en route to Hezbollah.
The leaders of Germany and France say President Bashar Assad brought American missile strikes upon himself by using chemical weapons.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande said in a joint statement Friday after talking on the phone that “President Assad alone carries responsibility for these developments” with his “repeated use of chemical weapons and his crimes against his own people.”
The two leaders said their countries would continue to work with United Nations partners in “efforts to hold President Assad responsible for his criminal acts.”
They called upon the international community to “join forces for a political transition in Syria” in accordance with the U.N. resolution.
Turkish officials continue to voice their support for the U.S. missile strike on Syria.
Turkey's foreign ministry welcomed the U.S. missile strike on Shayart air base following the chemical attack in Khan Sheikhoun as “very positive.” In a written statement Friday, the ministry said steps to ensure that war crimes do not go unpunished and are held accountable “will have Turkey's full support.”
Presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin also called the strike “an important step,” according to Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency. Kalin repeated Turkey's calls for a no-fly zone and safe zone in Syria so that “similar massacres do not happen again.”
French far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen says U.S. President Donald Trump is trying to be the “world's policeman” with airstrikes on Syria and is suggesting that it could backfire.
Le Pen has expressed support for Syrian President Bashar Assad in the past, and said on France-2 television Friday that she was “surprised” by Trump's sudden move.
Le Pen said that Trump indicated he would not make the U.S. “the world's policeman, and that's exactly what he did yesterday.” She warned that past international interventions in Iraq and Libya have led to rising Islamic extremism.
Le Pen appeared to be distancing herself from Trump. The two have similar views and Le Pen is hoping to ride a wave of protectionist, anti-immigrant sentiment to the presidency next month.
Russia says it's suspending a deal with the U.S. to prevent mid-air collisions over Syria in response to the U.S. strike on a Syrian air base.
The Russian Foreign Ministry said in Friday's statement that Moscow is suspending a memorandum with the U.S. to prevent incidents and ensure flight safety.
Under the memorandum, signed after Russia launched an air campaign in Syria in September 2015, Russia and the U.S. had exchanged information about their flights to avoid incidents in the crowded skies over Syria.
Russia has several dozen warplanes and batteries of air-defence missiles at its base in Syria.
Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe expressed support for the U.S. missile attack on a Syrian government-controlled air base.
Abe on Friday said Japan understood and supported the U.S. strategy, saying the strikes were “a means to prevent further deterioration of the situation” referring to the suspected chemical attack earlier in Syria this week.
About 60 U.S. Tomahawk missiles hit the Shayrat air base, southeast of Homs, a small installation with two runways, where aircraft often take off to bomb targets in northern and central Syria.
Indonesia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs says it's concerned by unilateral foreign actions in Syria including the U.S. attack on a Syrian government air base on Thursday night.
Ministry spokesman Arrmanatha Nasir said Indonesia rejects the use of chemical weapons for any purpose and condemns a chemical weapons attack in Syria earlier this week that killed dozens of civilians.
But it did not praise President Donald Trump's retaliation against the government of Syria's President Bashar Assad.
Nasir says, “We are also very concerned by unilateral actions that have been taken by many parties including the recent launch of Tomahawks in response to the use of chemical weapons.”
NATO's chief was warned that the United States was to launch missile strikes in Syria and is making no comment on the incident.
Jens Stoltenberg's office said Friday that “we can confirm that NATO Secretary-General was informed by the US Secretary of Defence prior to the strikes.”
But it said “we refer you to the US authorities regarding the strikes in Syria.”
Syrian military says the U.S. missile attack on one of its air bases in central Syria has killed six and caused extensive damage, calling it an aggression that undermines Damascus' counter terrorism operations.
The statement read on TV Friday came hours after the U.S. sent nearly 60 Tomahawk missiles into the Shayrat air base, southeast of Homs, the first American attack against the Syrian army since the war started in 2011.
Ali Mayhoub, Syrian army spokesman, said Washington has used the chemical attack in the northern town of Khan Sheikhoun earlier this week as a “pretext” to carry out the “blatant aggression” , without knowing what really happened. Syria blames the opposition fighters of stockpiling chemical weapons.
A communication link between the U.S. and Russia used to protect their pilots flying sorties over Syria was used ahead of an American missile strike on the country.
The so-called “deconfliction line” is operated by the U.S. military's Central Command at the sprawling al-Udeid Air Base in Qatar. It serves as a crucial link to make sure the increasingly crowded Syrian airspace doesn't see any accidental collisions or attacks on each other.
Pentagon spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis says: “U.S. military planners took precautions to minimize risk to Russian or Syrian personnel located at the airfield” targeted in Syria's Homs province. U.S. Central Command did not immediately respond to an Associated Press query on specifics of how the line was used.
About 60 U.S. Tomahawk missiles launched early Friday hit the Shayrat air base, southeast of the city of Homs, a small installation with two runways. The attack came in response for a chemical weapons attack Tuesday in Syria.
Turkey has welcomed the U.S. missile strike on Syria, saying it was an “important and meaningful” development but called for a continued tough stance against President Bashar Assad that would render him “no longer able to harm his people.”
Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus said in a live television interview Friday: “It is imperative that the Assad regime is fully punished by the international community.”
“We see the (air strikes) as positive, but we believe that this should be completed,” Kurtulmus said. “The Assad regime's barbarism must immediately be stopped.”
Kurtulmus added that he hoped the U.S. action would help accelerate peace efforts in Syria.
Turkey is a strong opponent of Syrian President Bashar Assad and has backed the Syrian opposition fighting against him.
The Kremlin says President Vladimir Putin believes that the U.S. strike on a Syrian air base is an “aggression against a sovereign state in violation of international law.”
Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in Friday's statement carried by Russian news agencies that Putin believes that the U.S. has dealt the strikes under “far-fetched pretext.”
Russia has argued that the death of civilians in the Syrian town of Khan Sheikhoun on Tuesday resulted from Syrian forces hitting a rebel chemical arsenal there.
Peskov said that the U.S. has ignored past incidents of the use of chemical weapons by Syrian rebels. He argued that the Syrian government has destroyed its chemical weapons stockpiles under international control.
A survivor of the chemical attack in a northern Syrian town says he hopes the U.S. missile attack could help put an end to Syrian government airstrikes, creating a safe area for civilians.
Alaa Alyousef, a 27-year old resident of Khan Sheikhoun, said Friday the U.S. missile attack “alleviates a small part of our sufferings,” but he worries it will be like “anesthetics,” to save face. AlYousef said the U.S. is capable of “paralyzing” Syrian warplanes .
“What good is a strike on Shayart air base alone while we have more than 15 other air bases,” he said. Alyousef lost at least 25 relatives in this week's gruesome chemical attack in Khan Sheikhoun. The Syrian government denies it was behind the attack, believed to have deployed chemical weapons.
A Syrian official tells The Associated Press that the U.S. missile attack that hit military targets in central Syria has killed three soldiers and two civilians.
Talal Barazi, the governor of Homs province, said seven others were wounded in the early Friday attack. He had earlier said a fire raged in the air base in Homs for over an hour following the barrage of missiles.
A Syrian opposition monitor said the attack killed four soldiers, including a general.
The attack came in fiery retaliation for this week's gruesome chemical weapons attack against civilians.
Iran has condemned the U.S. missile strike on Syria, saying the “unilateral action is dangerous, destructive and violates the principles of international law.”
That's according to Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi. He made the comments in a report carried Friday by the semi-official ISNA news agency.
Iran is one of the biggest supporters of embattled Syrian President Bashar Assad. Its hard-line paramilitary Revolutionary Guard is deeply involved in the war. America's Sunni Arab allies in the Gulf view Syria as a proxy conflict between it and Shiite power Iran.
Ghasemi described Iran as “the biggest victim of chemical weapons in recent history,” referencing Iraqi use of the weapons during its 1980s war with the Islamic Republic. He said Iran condemned the missile launch “regardless of the perpetrators and the victims” of Tuesday's chemical weapons attack in Syria.
He also warned it would “strengthen terrorists” and further add to “the complexity of the situation in Syria and the region.”
Saudi Arabia is praising the “courageous decision” by U.S. President Donald Trump to launch missile strikes on Syria over a deadly chemical weapons attack.
A statement carried by the state-run Saudi Press Agency on Friday firmly blames the government of embattled Syrian President Bashar Assad for the chemical weapons attack.
The Saudi Foreign Ministry said the missile launch by Trump was the right response to “the crimes of this regime to its people in light of the failure of the international community to stop it.”
Sunni-ruled Saudi Arabia is a longtime opponent of Assad and has supported the rebels fighting against him. It also views the long-running war as a proxy conflict between it and its Middle East archrival, the Shiite power Iran.
A senior Russian lawmaker says that U.S. strike on Syria likely has put an end to hopes for Russia-U.S. co-operation in Syria.
Konstantin Kosachev, the head of the foreign affairs committee in the Kremlin-controlled upper house of parliament said on his Facebook that the prospective U.S.-Russian anti-terror coalition has been “put to rest without even being born.”
Kosachev added that “it's a pity,” suggesting that Trump had been pressured to act by the Pentagon.
He added that while “Russian cruise missiles strike the terrorists, U.S. missiles strike Syrian government forces who are spearheading the fight against the terrorists.”
A Syrian opposition monitor says the U.S. missile attack on an air base in the country's centre has killed at least four Syrian soldiers, including a general, and caused extensive damage.
The head of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the early Friday missile attack damaged over a dozen hangars, a fuel depot and an air defence base.
About 60 U.S. Tomahawk missiles hit the Shayrat air base, southeast of Homs, a small installation with two runways. A Syrian official the attack caused deaths and a fire, but didn't elaborate.
The U.S. attack came in fiery retaliation to Tuesday's deadly chemical attack that officials said used chlorine mixed with a nerve agent, possibly sarin. More than 80 were killed in that attack that drew wide international condemnation.
Israel's ambassador to the U.N. says the U.S. sent a “significant message” to the region and beyond with the attack on a Syrian air base.
Danny Danon told Channel 10 TV “it was a moral decision that delivered a triple message.” He said it told the Syrians to stop using chemical weapons and sent a message to Iran and North Korea. He said it also told the international community that “if the U.N. is incapable of acting in these situations it will lead.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said earlier “this message of resolve in the face of the Assad regime's horrific actions will resonate not only in Damascus, but in Tehran, Pyongyang and elsewhere.”
Israel's military says it was notified ahead of the strike.
Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull says the “Australian government strongly supports the swift and just response of the United States” in launching a rocket attack on a Syrian air base.
He tells reporters in Sydney on Friday: “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.”
“But we are not at war with the Assad regime and the United States have made it clear that they are not seeking to overthrow the Assad regime,” he added.
Russia's Foreign Ministry says it is preparing a statement regarding U.S. strikes on a Syrian base.
Shortly before the strikes, the head of information policy commission in the upper house of Russian parliament, Alexei Pushkov, said on Twitter said that if Trump launches a military action in Syria it would put him in “the same league with Bush and Obama.”
Russian deputy envoy to the U.N., Vladimir Safronkov, said Russia had warned the U.S. to “think about what military actions have led to in Iraq, Libya and other countries,” according to the Interfax news agency.
A Syrian official tells The Associated Press that the U.S. missile attack that hit a number of military targets in central Syria has left a number of dead and wounded.
Talal Barazi, the governor of Homs province, didn't say how many were killed in the early Friday attack. He said a fire raged in the air base in Homs for over an hour following the barrage of missiles.
Barazi says the evacuation and transfer of casualties is ongoing. He called the air base, which is about 45 kilometres (28 miles) east of the city of Homs, a “supporting base” for Syria's fight against terrorism.
Islamic State group militants operate in the central Homs province. Activists and rebels say the base serves as one of the government's most active launching pad for airstrikes on all rebel areas in central and northern Syria. Syria's government calls all armed groups “terrorists.”
The attack came in fiery retaliation for this week's gruesome chemical weapons attack against civilians.
Israel's prime minister has welcomed the U.S. attack on a Syrian air base saying he “fully supports” President Trump's decision.
Benjamin Netanyahu said Friday in a statement that “In both word and action” Trump “sent a strong and clear message” that “the use and spread of chemical weapons will not be tolerated.”
Israel's Channel 2 TV said Israel along with other allies was notified about the U.S. strike.
The attacks in neighbouring Syria have worried Israel, which has warned against “game-changing” weapons reaching Hezbollah in Lebanon from the country, which supports the militant group. Last month Israel shot down an anti-aircraft missile fired at its planes as they struck a suspected Hezbollah weapons convoy.
Israel also has treated several thousand Syrians wounded in fighting and provided humanitarian aid to some Syrian communities near the Israeli frontier in the Golan Heights.<