Prime minister Malcolm Turnbull says the Australian government “strongly supports the swift and just response of the United States” after it launched 59 Tomahawk missiles on Syria’s Shayrat airfield in response to a chemical attack that killed at least 80 people in the country on Monday.
“It was a crime that called out for a swift response,” Turnbull said.
“The retribution has been proportionate and it has been swift. And we support the United States in this swift action, that we hope and pray will see the end of the use of chemical weapons in Syria.
US secretary of defense James Mattis informed Australian defence minister Marise Payne about the missile launch beforehand.
Australia was not involved in the strike, but remains “fully committed as a Coalition partner, to out ongoing military operations in Iraq and Syria”, the prime minister said
“These crimes against humanity, shocking and horrific even in the context of the Syrian conflict zone, cannot be committed with impunity. The perpetrators must be held to account,” he said.
“This is a vitally important signal, a vitally important message, that we will not tolerate, the world will not tolerate the use of these chemical weapons.”
Turnbull blamed Russia for preventing a resolution to the conflict, with the UN Security Council “at an impasse due to the position of the Assad regime’s supporter, Russia”.
“The whole world is crying out for a settlement in Syria,” he said.
The prime minister said the “shocking” and “horrific” chemical weapons attack “raise very real questions as to whether there can be any role for Mr Assad in any solution or settlement”.
He added that Australia was “not at war with the Assad regime and the United States has made it clear that they do not want to overthrow the Assad regime.”
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