UPDATE 3:30 PM | PRIME Minister Malcolm Turnbull says Australia “strongly supports” the “swift” military action from the United States in response to Syria’s chemical weapons attack.
The Australian leader said the gas attack which killed innocent civilians including women, children, and babies, was a crime that called out for a swift response and the United States had delivered.
Acting on orders given by U.S. President and Commander-in-Cheif Donald Trump, U.S. forces attacked Syria with 59 Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles, fired from two navy destroyers stationed in the Mediterranean Sea.
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“The Australian Government strongly supports the swift and just response of the United States,” Mr Turnbull said. “This was a collobrated, proportionate and targeted response.”
“It sends a strong message to the Asaad regime (and) we hope and pray that we will see the end of the use of chemical weapons in Syria.”
Although Australian assets were not involved in today’s military action against Syria, Mr Turnbull said his country remained committed as a “coalition partner”.
“Australia was not involved in the strike but we remain fully committed as a coalition partner to our ongoing military operations in Iraq and Syria,” Mr Turnbull said.
“We have been consistent in our condemnation of the use of chemical weapons in Syria and elsewhere.
“The use of these weapons under any circumstances is illegal and abhorrent. It is a violation of international law. It is a war crime and it is a blatant contravention of basic principals of humanity.
“These crimes against humanity, shocking and horrific even in the context of the Syrian conflict zone, can not be committed with impunity.
“The perpetrators must be held to account.”
— Nine News Australia (@9NewsAUS) April 7, 2017
UPDATE 1:45 PM | THE Pentagon has released a statement on the United States’ military action in Syria.
The Pentagon says U.S. forces conducted a cruise missile strike against a Syrian Air Force airfield around 8:40pm New York time in response to the Syrian Government’s chemical weapons attack on Tuesday, April 4.
At the direction of President Donald Trump, a total of 59 Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles (TLAMs) were launched from the destroyers USS Porter and USS Ross stationed in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea.
It would have been 4:40am in Syria when the missiles rained down on the Shayrat Airfield in Homs governorate, the airbase from where the aircraft loaded with the toxic gas used in this week’s attack was launched.
The Pentagon said the military airfield was used to store chemical weapons and Syrian air forces.
The U.S. missiles targeted aircraft, hardened aircraft shelters, fuelling stations, logistical storage facilities, ammunition supply bunkers, air defence systems, and radars at the airfield.
“As always, the U.S. took extraordinary measures to avoid civilian casualties and to comply with the Law of Armed Conflict,” the Pentagon said.
“Every precaution was taken to execute this strike with minimal risk to personnel at the airfield.”
The Pentagon said the strike was a “proportional response” to Assad’s heinous act and was intended to deter the regime from using chemical weapons again.
“Russian forces were notified in advance of the strike using the established deconfliction line (and) U.S. military planners took precautions to minimize risk to Russian or Syrian personnel located at the airfield.”
“Initial indications are that this strike has severely damaged or destroyed Syrian aircraft and support infrastructure and equipment at Shayrat Airfield, reducing the Syrian Government’s ability to deliver chemical weapons.
“The use of chemical weapons against innocent people will not be tolerated.”
EARLIER 12:20 PM | THE United States has launched more than 50 Tomahawk missiles against Syria in response to the horrific chemical weapons attack that killed dozens of innocent civilians, including children.
Up to 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles were fired at runways, aircraft and fuelling stations at the Al Sharyat Airfield, near Homs in western Syria.
This is the airfield from where the aircraft loaded with the toxic gas used in this week’s barbaric attack that killed at least 86 people, including more than 20 children, in the war-torn country was launched from.
President Trump ordered the strike on the country an hour after Russia’s deputy UN envoy, Vladimir Safronkov, warned there would be “negative consequences” if the US proceeded with military action.
It’s understood the missiles were launched from guided-missile destroyers USS Ross and Porter stationed in the eastern Mediterranean around 8.45pm New York time, making it 3.45am in Syria.
Speaking to reporters shortly after the strike was carried out, Trump called on all “civilised nations” to join the effort to stop the slaughter and bloodshed in Syria.
Trump called the deadly nerve gas attack an “affront to humanity” and warned that Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad had crossed a line.
“On Tuesday, Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad launched a horrible chemical weapons attack on innocent civilians using a deadly nerve agent,” President Trump said.
“Assad choked out the lives of innocent men, women, and children. It was a slow and brutal death for so many. Even beautiful babies were cruelly murdered in this very barbaric attack.
“No child of god should ever suffer such horror.
“Tonight, I ordered a targeted military strike on the airfield in Syria from where the chemical attack was launched.
“It is in this vital national security interest of the United States to prevent and deter the spread and use of deadly chemical weapons.”
Trump said it was clear that Syria had used banned chemical weapons, violated its obligations under the chemical weapons convention and ignored the urging of the UN security council.
“Years of previous attempts at changing Assad’s behaviour have all failed and failed very dramatically,” he said.
“As a result, the refugee crisis continues to deepen and the region continues to destabilise, threatening the United States and its allies.
“Tonight I call on all civilised nations to join us in seeking to end the slaughter and bloodshed in Syria, and also to end terrorism of all kinds and all types.
“We ask for god’s wisdom as we face the challenge of our very troubled world.
“We pray for the lives of the wounded and for the souls of those who have passed.
“And we hope that as long as America stands for justice that peace and harmony will in the end prevail.
“Goodnight and god bless America and the entire world. Thank you.”
— Sky News Australia (@SkyNewsAust) April 7, 2017