A day after the United States, United Kingdom and France ordered missile strikes against Syria, China said that it was “opposed to the use of force” and called for a dialogue to resolve the issue, AFP reported.
“We consistently oppose the use of force in international relations, and advocate respect for the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of all countries,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said on Saturday. She added that such unilateral military action bypassing the United Nations Security Council will complicate the Syrian conflict.
“China urges all to resolve the issue through dialogue and consultation,” Hua said.
Russian President Vladimir Putin denounced the air strikes and said they were an “act of aggression” that will only worsen the humanitarian catastrophe in Syria, AP reported. He added that Russia will call an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council against the strike that had a “destructive influence on the entire system of international relations.”
The air strikes, which reportedly targeted a scientific research centre in Barzah near Damascus and an army depot near Homs, were in retaliation for a suspected chemical attack in the rebel-held Douma town by the Bashar al-Assad regime.
A senior Russian military official said Syria intercepted at least 71 of 103 cruise missiles that were fired. While the United States said that at least 58 of its missiles struck Syria, France said it had fired 12 missiles, and none of them were intercepted.
Rescue workers have said that at least 70 people were killed in the chemical attack, but the toll will rise as they get access to the basements where civilians sought refuge. Both Syria and Russia, its biggest supporter, have denied involvement in the attack.
The Iraqi foreign ministry said the US-led strikes were a dangerous development, which could “threaten the security and stability of the region” according to Reuters.
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei also denounced the strikes. “The attack this morning against Syria is a crime,” Khamenei said. “The American president, the French president and the British prime minister are criminals.”
President Bashar al-Assad told Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani that the Western attack would only increase Syria’s resolve to “fight and crush terrorism in every inch” of the country, Reuters reported.
The Syrian opposition, however, said the strikes would not change much in the country. It urged the Western forces to also strike Assad’s conventional weapons.
President Donald Trump on Saturday praised the air strikes as “perfectly executed” and said “Mission Accomplished” on Twitter. “A perfectly executed strike last night. Thank you to France and the United Kingdom for their wisdom and the power of their fine military,” he wrote.
Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said that if France’s “red line” was crossed again, there could be another attack on Syria. He added that the missile strikes had destroyed a “good part” of the Syrian government’s chemical weapons”.
Prime Minister Theresa May said the decision was taken as there was no other “alternative path”. She said that they were clear Syria had used chemical weapons. “We cannot allow the use of chemical weapons to become normalised – within Syria, on the streets of the UK, or anywhere else in our world,” she said.
Chancellor Angela Merkel said the strikes were “necessary and appropriate”. “We support the fact that our American, British and French allies have taken responsibility in this way as permanent members of the UN Security Council,” Merkel said. She has earlier said that Germany would not take part in any military action against Syria.
The European Union warned of fresh economic sanctions on Syria if it did not stop using chemical weapons. “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,” it said.