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+++ US fires cruise missiles on Syria - live updates +++

Germany, France and the UK have endorsed the missile strike on a Syrian army base, which the US launched in retaliation to the suspected gas attack in Syria. DW brings you the latest reactions from around the world.

  • American destroyers in the Mediterranean fired almost 60 Tomahawk missiles at the Shayrat airfield in Homs, used as the base for Syrian jets allegedly involved in the chemical weapons strike. At least three Syrian soldiers and several civilians were reported killed, but preliminary information suggested no Russian casualties.
  • President Donald Trump said that the move was in the "vital national security interest of the United States," marking a major policy reversal for his administration.
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin called the strike an "act of aggression against a sovereign state in violation of international law."
  • German Chancellor Angela Merkel and France's President Francois Hollande blamed Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, saying that his actions provoked the response.

Read the full story on the US military action in Syria here

All updates in UTC

 

16:17 France also described the US response to Tuesday's alleged chemical attack as "appropriate." French Ambassador Francois Delattre said he hoped the airstrikes would prove to be a "game changer and help boost the political negotiations."

16:13 Addressing the UN Security Council, Britain's UN Ambassador Matthew Rycroft described the US airstrike as a "proportionate response to unspeakable acts."

The UK diplomat also lashed out at Moscow, which has provided the Assad regime with military and political support. Rycroft told the 15-member council that "without Russia's seven vetoes in the Security Council, defying the views of other members of this council, Assad would have faced sanctions and justice."

15:43 The UN Security Council has begun an emergency session to discuss the situation in Syria. The US, which currently holds the rotating presidency, decided not to acquiesce to a request from Bolivia to hold the talks behind closed doors. Bolivia initially called the session, but US envoy Nikki Haley said that the meeting should be public so that "any country that chooses to defend the atrocities of the Syrian regime will have to do so in full public view, for all the world to hear."

15:20 After a noticeable silence, top Senate Republican Mitch McConnell said he did not think President Trump needed congressional approval for the strike, because it was "simply a message" to Syrian President Assad "not to use chemical weapons again." He said he did not interpret the airstrike as a "first step" towards further military intervention, and reaffirmed early US policy on Syria calling for Assad to step down.

15:08 German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said on a trip to Mali that while he agreed that a possible gas attack "constituted a war crime," he was worried that "we have lost sight of the political process," and called on Washington to let the United Nations continue its efforts to broker peace.

14:57 Hezbollah, the militant group from Lebanon that enjoys Iranian sympathy, called the US' actions "foolish," and warned that it could be "the beginning of a great and dangerous escalation in the region."

14:25 Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev called Thursday night's US airstrikes "illegal" and warned that they were just "one step away from clashing with the Russian military."

Satellite pictures suggested that the Shayrat air base that was struck also housed Russian special forces and military helicopters. US forces had reportedly informed Russian officials of the strike ahead of time to avoid hitting any Russian personnel.

13:24 A Russian frigate carrying cruise missiles will visit a logistics base in Syria's Tartus after entering the Mediterranean on Friday, reported Russia's state-owned TASS news agency, citing diplomatic sources.

13:17 Federica Mogherini, the EU's top diplomat, said a political solution to the conflict will ensure peace and security in Syria and effectively uproot the "Islamic State" and other militants groups operating in the country.

"The EU firmly believes that there can be no military solution to the conflict and is committed to the unity, sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence of the Syrian state," she said.

13:11 Russia demanded an emergency meeting of the UN ceasefire task force in Geneva to discuss the latest US military action in Syria.

12:54 Jordan said the US missile strike was a "necessary and appropriate response to the continued targeting of civilians" in the wake of a suspected chemical weapons attack earlier this week.

12:07 The US cruise missiles likely followed a route outside of the zones covered by the Russian air defense systems, a military expert told the Russian Interfax news agency.

"The route was calculated to evade our air defense systems […] Americans are no fools," Aytech Bizhev said, adding that the outdated Syrian systems were not able to stand up to such an attack.

Watch video 02:16

US strikes Syrian airbase

11:47 German Chancellor Angela Merkel urged a political transition in Syria with the ultimate goal of a "democratic" end to the Assad regime.

The US strike was understandable in view of the "the war crimes, the suffering of innocent people, and the blockade in the UN Security Council," she said.

11:40 Oil prices rallied after the US strike on Friday, reaching their highest levels in months over fears that the escalation could disrupt supply routes in the Middle East.

11:33 Russian air defense systems in charge of protecting Moscow bases in Syria are on duty "around the clock," military spokesman Igor Konashenkov said.

11:20 The Syrian presidency says Washington was naively sucked in by a false propaganda campaign about the chemical weapons strike.

The US "aggression" has increased the government's resolve to "hit those terrorist agents, to continue to crush them," Damascus officials said. The office of Bashar al-Assad also slammed the strike as "rash" and "shortsighted."

11:15 Vladimir Putin and Russia's top security officials were "deeply concerned" about the consequences of the US strike, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said after an urgent meeting in Moscow.

"They have also expressed regret about the damage done to the bilateral ties between Russia and the US," he said.

11:03 Iran's Foreign Minister Javad Zarif slammed the US for "fighting on the same side" as al Qaeda and the "Islamic State" in a series of tweets.

 

11:01 The Russian Defense Ministry believes that the US missile strike was being prepared long before the alleged chemical attack in Idlib. The US destroyers "Porter" and "Ross" were directed to the eastern regions of the Mediterranean Sea days before the incident, Russian Interfax agency said, citing non-classified Pentagon data.

10:55 Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom raised the question whether the US strike was "compatible with international law."

"It is important that such actions have a legal basis," she said. "This question must be taken to the UN Security Council, which has to take responsibility for a lasting political solution."

10:41 The US informed the EU that "these strikes were limited," EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said.

10:30 The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry supported the US military action in Syria.

"For those who break international law by using chemical weapons, impunity would lead to further crimes… The backers and those who cover up the crimes of the Syrian regime are also responsible for using the weapons of mass destruction and civilian casualties," Kyiv said.

10:23 French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault says that Paris urged Russia to negotiate.

"We have to stop the hypocrisy. If Russia is acting in good faith it should stop and negotiate," he said. "We do not wish to raise the stakes, but to find a solution. You cannot deal with reality (use of chemical weapons) by resorting to propaganda."

10:20 The US attack killed nine civilians, including four children, according to the Syrian state news agency SANA.

10:16 NATO head Jens Stoltenberg said that Syrian authorities carried the blame for the missile strike.

"Any use of chemical weapons is unacceptable, cannot go unanswered, and those responsible must be held accountable," he added.

10:13 With the international community divided on the US strike in Syria, there is a risk of the shockwaves spreading far beyond Syrian borders, says DW's Lewis Sanders.

Read: US polarizes world with attack on Syrian regime

10:12 An unidentified warplane bombed the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhoun, the site of the earlier chemical weapons attack, on Friday, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

10:10 Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu called for the ouster of President Bashar al-Assad.

"This regime must be removed from leading Syria as soon as possible, and the best way to do that is by starting the transitional process," Cavusoglu said in televised remarks.

10:08 Russia's President Vladimir Putin will hold a meeting of his security council later on Friday. Moscow would keep technical and military channels of communication open with Washington, but would not exchange any information through them, Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

10:05 Russia must play a "decisive" role in resolving the Syrian crisis alongside the UN, Italian Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni said.

09:57 The effectiveness of Syrian air defense systems will be boosted in the near future, in order to "protect the most sensitive objects of the Syrian infrastructure," Russian military spokesman Igor Konashenkov said. He added that only 23 Tomahawk missiles struck the base out of 59 launched, making the US action "extremely ineffective."

09:53 US Senator and one-time US presidential candidate John McCain says Donald Trump's strikes send an "important message." 

09:45 Danish Prime Minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen praised the attack on Twitter.

"Good that cowardly assaults on women, men and children have consequences. The United States has clearly indicated that (Syrian President Bashar) Assad's atrocities do not go unpunished."

09:35 The key rival of Chancellor Merkel in the upcoming parliamentary elections in Germany, SPD chief Martin Schulz, urged Europe to put more effort into resolving the Syrian crisis.

"For far too long, we the Europeans have only looked at the US and Russia," he said. The EU needs to take more "political, not military" responsibility, he added.

09:25 EU Council President Donald Tusk tweeted that the strike showed US "resolve."

09:13 The US says that the targeted army compound served as a base to launch the chemical weapons attack that killed at least 80 people.

09:08 French President Francois Hollande was meeting with his top security officials in Paris to discuss next steps in Syria.

09:05 Russia's Sergey Lavrov hopes that the US missile strikes would not lead to "irreparable damage" between Moscow and Washington.

08:54 French far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen warned that interventions in Iraq and Libya boosted Islamic terrorism.

US president Donald Trump had indicated that he would not make his country "the world's policeman, and that's exactly what he did yesterday," she told France-2 television.

08:52 Italy's Foreign Minister Angelino Alfano says the attack was a "reasonable reaction" and a deterrent to the regime's chemical weapons use.

08:48 Syrian rebels welcomed the US military strike in Syria, but urged more military action, according to the AFP news agency.

08:41 Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov says Moscow will demand an explanation from the US on Syria strikes.

08:38 The Syrian ambassador in Moscow says the US strikes confirm that Washington supports and coordinates with the 'Islamic State' and al Nusra.

"It a clear demonstration that America supports terror," Ambassador Riad Haddad said.

08:30 Global financial markets responded cautiously after the strike, according to DW's business department.

Click here to read more: Markets nervous, but not hectic after airstrike

08:24 The attack destroyed nine planes in the Syrian base, according to Russian state TV.

 

08:17 Despite the US strike, the diplomatic visit to Moscow by the US Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, is likely to proceed as planned, senior Russian MP Leonid Slutsky told Rossya 24.

08:07 Ankara repeated its calls to establish a "no fly" zone over Syria, saying that the strike was a "positive response to the Assad regime's war crimes." 

07:54 Syria's Assad carries the "sole responsibility for this development," said German Chancellor Angela Merkel and France's President Francois Hollande.

"His repeated use of chemical weapons and his crimes against the population demanded sanctioning," they said.

Watch video 01:31

US fires cruise missiles on Syria – the first reactions

07:49 German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel described the US move as "understandable."

07:45 Russia has decided to "halt" its agreement with the US on avoiding incidents in Syrian airspace after cruise missile strikes.

07:40 Democratic congressman Ted Lieu urged more information on Trump's policies after the strike.

07:34 The strike prompted a strong response from US social media users, with many pointing out President Trump's earlier stances on bombing Syria.

07:31 China recommends avoiding "further deterioration" and urges relevant parties to stick to political statements in Syria as Chinese President Xi Jinping continues his diplomatic visit to the US.

07:27 The Syrian army raised the death toll to six people, adding that the strike caused "significant damage.

The US "carried out a flagrant aggression with missiles against one of our air bases in the central region," a spokesman said on state television.

07:21 Washington had notified NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg of plans to attack the Syrian army, according to NATO.

The alliance "can confirm that NATO Secretary-General was informed by the US Secretary of Defense prior to the strikes."

07:16 Senior Russian lawmaker Leonid Slutsky said that Russia was forced to fight terrorism on its own.

"We should not eliminate the possibility that the chemical attack was a provocation to undermine the rhetoric used by US President Donald Trump and return the US on the anti-Assad course," he said.

07:11 Tokyo voiced its support for the US move to "prevent the spread and use of chemical weapons."

"Many innocent people became victims from the chemical attacks," said Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. "The international community was shocked by the tragedy that left many young children among the victims."

07:08 The UK says that the strike was designed to deter the regime from any new chemical weapons attacks.

"We've not been asked to be involved in this; this was not a matter for the coalition that's in Syria and Iraq fighting [the Islamic State militia]," Fallon said. "This was a United States operation, but let me emphasize again we fully support it."

07:04 Damascus does not expect military escalation with the US, said Syria's information minister.

"I believe this strike was limited in time and space, and it was expected," Minister Ramez Turjman said in a phone interview with Syrian state television.

07:01 The strike on the Syrian army was "designed" not to involve Russian personnel, said British Defense Secretary Michael Fallon.

06:50 Confused as to who is fighting whom in Syria? DW has an overview of the many factions and world powers engaged in the long and complicated war.

06:45 US Senator Rand Paul said that the US president needed an approval from Congress to use military force.

06:41 Warsaw praised the US as a "guarantor of world peace and order," supporting the strike in a statement.

06:25 Missile strikes would raise tensions between Moscow and Washington, and not contribute to a political solution for the Syrian crisis, German lawmaker Jürgen Trittin told "Deutschlandfunk."

06:21 No Russians were hurt in the US missile strike on the Syrian base, a senior Russian lawmaker in charge of veteran affairs told Interfax.

06: 17 Russia's President Vladimir Putin regards the US missile strike as an act of "aggression against a sovereign state in violation of international law, and also based on a made-up pretext," said his spokesman Dmitry Peskov.

06:12 Syrian government must be fully punished in the international arena, Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Kurtulmus said, adding that international community must maintain its stance against Assad.

06:08 The US strike "inflicts fundamental damage on the relations between the US and Russia, which are already in a lamentable state," said Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov.

6:02 France was informed of the US plans to conduct a missile strike ahead of time, French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault told France Info radio.

Russia and Iran needed to understand that supporting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad made no sense, he added, stressing that France was not seeking confrontation with those two countries.

05:58 Lebanese TV station al-Mayadeen says that the Syrian army had evacuated most of its warplanes before the US attack.

05:56 Commenting on the US move, Iran said that "unilateral action is dangerous, destructive and violates the principles of international law."

05:54 The UK endorsed the missile strike as an "appropriate response to the barbaric chemical weapons attack launched by the Syrian regime."

05:50 Was the regime of President Bashar al-Assad responsible for the chemical weapons attack in northern Syria? DW spoke to several experts who suggested it could have been jihadi rebels. 

Read: Is Assad to blame for the chemical weapons attack in Syria?

05:47 The death toll in the US missile strike has risen to five, with seven injured, Homs governor Talal Barazi said.

05:36 Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer praised the US strike as the "right thing to do."

05:31 "Russian cruise missiles hit the terrorists, the US missiles strike Syrian government forces who are spearheading the fight against the terrorists," senior Russian lawmaker Konstantin Kosachev said on his Facebook page.

President Trump was pressured into action by the allegedly "irrefutable evidence," Kosachev added.

"How can we not remember the proverbial Iraqi anthrax vial held by Colin Powel?" the Russian politician asked, alluding to the false rationale for the Iraq war.

05:25 Iran, one of the main allies of the Assad regime, strongly condemned the US missile attack on Syrian targets.

05:17 Saudi Arabia backed the US strike, saying it was a "courageous decision" by President Donald Trump.

05:11 The missile strike raises doubts about Russia's coalition with the US on Syria, said Konstantin Kosachev, head of the foreign affairs committee in the Russian parliament.

05:07 Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull says his government "strongly supports the swift and just response of the United States."

05:04 At least four Syrian soldiers were killed in the US strike, and the base was "almost completely destroyed," Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

04:59 President Trump said Assad "choked out the lives" of men, women, and children.

"Tonight I call on all civilized nations to join us in seeking to end the slaughter and bloodshed in Syria," he added.

Watch video 02:56

President Trump full remarks on US airstrike on Syria

04:57 Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan backed the US military action as "appropriate and just," adding that President Bashar al-Assad "must be held accountable."

04:55 The US Department of Defense released footage of the missile strike online:

04:53 The Syrian National Coalition (SNC) opposition group welcomed the strike on the Syrian air base.

04:49 The Pentagon did not know if there were Russian troops at the Syrian air base, but they have done "all they could" to avoid harming them, a US military spokesman told Interfax.

04:44 Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that he "fully supports" President Trump's decision.

04:37 Moscow will call for an urgent Security Council meeting over the attack, according to a senior Russian MP.

04:30 The US missile strike caused deaths at the Syrian base, Homs governor told the AP news agency.

ls,dj/rt (AP, dpa, Reuters, AFP, Interfax, EFE)

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