Turkey has welcomed joint airstrikes by the armed forces of the United States, Britain and France on different localities of Syria, including the capital Damascus, in the wake of a suspected chemical attack in the town of Douma, near Damascus, which killed dozens in the Arab country last week.
“We welcome this operation which has eased humanity’s conscience in the face of the attack in Douma, largely suspected to have been carried out by” the Syrian government, said the Turkish Foreign Ministry in a statement carried by the country’s state-run Anadolu news agency on Saturday, adding that the airstrikes were an “appropriate response” to the purported chemical attack.
In a live televised address from the White House on Friday night local time, US President Donald Trump said that “a short time ago” he had approved “precision strikes” against Syria, alongside British and French forces that also took part in the bombing on "research, storage and military targets." Shortly after the announcement, reports began surfacing of explosions in Damascus in early Saturday.
According to the Russian Ministry of Defense, Syrian air defense units were scrambled to thwart the aerial invasion, intercepting 71 out of 103 of the cruise missiles.
However, the Pentagon says that 105 cruise missiles in total have been fired against the designated targets in Syria and that every single of them successfully hit its respective targets.
Back on April 7, a suspected chemical attack on the town of Douma, Eastern Ghouta, reportedly killed 60 people and injured hundreds more. Western countries blamed the incident on the Syrian government, but Damascus strongly rejected the accusations as “chemical fabrications” made by the terrorists themselves in a bid to halt pro-government forces’ advances.
Russia, one of Syria’s key supporters in the fight against foreign-backed militancy, has repeatedly said the purported chemical attack had been staged by desperate militants to provoke further intervention in the conflict by the West, namely the US-led military coalition that has been conducting airstrikes against what are said to be terrorists’ targets inside the Arab country since September 2014 without any authorization from the Damascus government or a UN mandate.
Syria surrendered its stockpiles of chemical weapons in 2014 to a joint mission led by the US and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which oversaw the destruction of the weaponry. Damascus has consistently denied using chemical weapons over the past years of conflict in the country.
Elsewhere in the statement on Saturday, the Turkish Foreign Ministry, while reiterating the West’s accusations against Damascus regarding the suspected chemical attack in Douma, said that “such crimes do not go unpunished and that accountability is ensured in order to prevent the recurrence of similar crimes.”
The Turkish government is a vocal critic of Damascus, calling for the ouster of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who has already crushed most of the foreign-backed militant outfits in the Arab country, including the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group. Ankara has also backed armed militia groups fighting for his ouster.
Additionally on Saturday, Russian President Vladimir Putin described the missile strikes as an “act of aggression against a sovereign state” and said they were against the UN charter.
On Friday, Russia’s Defense Ministry also accused Britain of faking the suspected chemical weapons attack in Douma.
“We have… evidence that proves Britain was directly involved in organizing this provocation,” Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said on Friday.
He also said that Moscow knew “for sure” that between April 3 and 6, the so-called civil defense group White Helmets was “under severe pressure specifically from London to produce as quickly as possible this pre-planned provocation.”