Taking serious note of the coordinated airstrikes in Syria by the US, UK and France, the Ministry of External Affairs on Saturday called for an impartial probe into the alleged use of chemical weapons by the Bashar al-Assad-led government on its civilians. “The alleged use of chemical weapons, if true, is deplorable. We call for an impartial and objective investigation by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to establish the facts,” the ministry was quoted by news agency ANI. While urging all parties to show constraint, the ministry said the matter should be settled amicably through dialogue and negotiations. “We urge all parties to show restraint and to avoid any further escalation in the situation. The matter should be resolved through dialogue and negotiations and on the basis of the principles of the UN Charter and in accordance with the international law,” it said. LIVE UPDATES
On Friday, US President Donald Trump launched precision air strikes on Syria in a combined operation with France and Britain. The three countries targeted Damascus and surrounding areas in retaliation to the alleged chemical attacks by President Bashar al-Assad last week, which killed at least 60 people.
While hailing the military later in the day, Trump praised the “perfectly executed” airstrikes against the Syrian regime. The US President claimed that the joint action aimed to establish a “strong deterrent” against the production, spread, and use of chemical weapons.
According to Pentagon, the Syrian forces lost several equipment and materials associated with chemical weapons in the airstrikes.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said the missile strikes carried out overnight in Syria had destroyed a “large part” of the Damascus government’s stocks of chemical weapons.
British Prime Minister Theresa May said the airstrikes by the three countries sent a “clear message” to Syria against the use of chemical weapons. The British Prime Minister told reporters at a Downing Street press conference on Saturday that the coordinated strikes to degrade the Bashar al-Assad led Syrian regime’s chemical weapons capability involved four Royal Air Force (RAF) Tornado GR 4s. “This collective action sends a clear message that the international community will not stand by and tolerate the use of chemical weapons,” she said.
Reacting to the attacks, Russian President Vladimir Putin said the strike will exacerbate humanitarian catastrophe in Syria and that the country will call for an emergency session of UN Security Council over the issue.
While opposing the airstrikes, China said any action bypassing the UN charter violated the principles of international law and the basic norms governing international relations. “China opposed the use of force in international relations and called for respect for other countries’ sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said.
Meanwhile, the United Nations Security Council has called for a meeting today, at Russia’s request, to discuss the strikes.
The European Union called for Russia and Iran to help stop more chemical weapons attacks by the Syrian government, warning of fresh economic sanctions. “The EU calls upon all countries, notably Russia and Iran, to use their influence to prevent any further use of chemical weapons, notably by the Syrian regime,” the EU said in a statement.