European leaders, Canada back Syria airstrikes but warn against escalation

(CBS News) — Many European leaders and the prime minister of Canada voiced support and understanding Saturday for the U.S.-led air strikes against Syria, but warned against allowing the seven-year conflict to escalate. The U.S., U.K. and France and U.K. launched the strikes Friday night Eastern Time in response to the Syrian regime’s alleged use of chemical weapons last weekend.

In total, the U.S. used 105 weapons against three targets, and Pentagon spokesperson Dana White said the U.S. and its allies “hit every target.”

“I can assure you we took every measure and precaution to strike only what we targeted and –– and we successfully hit every target,” White told reporters Saturday.

Later Saturday morning, the U.N. Security Council held an emergency session at Moscow’s request in response to the airstrikes, CBS News’ Pamela Falk reports from the United Nations. U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley made the case for the strikes, saying the U.S. and allies acted “not as revenge, not as punishment, not as a symbolic show of force.”

“We acted to deter the future use of chemical weapons by holding the Syrian regime responsible for its atrocities against humanity, she said.

“I spoke to the president this morning,” Haley said, referring to Mr. Trump, “and he said if the Syrian regime uses this poisonous gas again, the United States is locked and loaded.”

Here is a look at how European leaders and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau have reacted to the strikes, which came nearly a week after the alleged chemical attack in Douma that killed more than 40 people:

  • “Canada stands with our friends in this necessary response and we condemn in strongest possible terms” the use of chemical weapons in Syria. -Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
  • “It has always been Bulgaria’s position that no cause justifies the killing of innocent people, including children; that the use of chemical weapons is a war crime and the strike on Syrian targets was a response to a war crime.” -Bulgarian government statement. Bulgaria currently holds the rotating EU presidency.
  • “Strikes by US, France and UK make it clear that Syrian regime together with Russia & Iran cannot continue this human tragedy, at least not without cost. The EU will stand with our allies on the side of justice.” -Tweet by European Council President Donald Tusk
  • “What has occurred in Syria in recent days goes far beyond the constant violation of cease fires. The response to these atrocities is legitimate and proportionate.” -Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy
  • “The people martyred by chemicals is a certain amount but the people martyred by conventional weapons is much, much more.” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan expressed support for the airstrikes but added that more must be done to hold the Syrian regime accountable for the hundreds of thousands it has killed using conventional weapons
  • “We support the fact that our U.S., UK and French allies took on responsibility in this way as permanent members of the U.N. Security Council. The military strike was necessary and appropriate in order to preserve the effectiveness of the international ban on the use of chemical weapons and to warn the Syrian regime against further violations.” -German Chancellor Angela Merkel
  • “This was a limited and targeted action to strike the capacity of building or diffusing chemical arms. It cannot and should not be the start of an escalation.” -Italian Premier Paolo Gentiloni
  • “The international community has the responsibility to identify and hold accountable those responsible of any attack with chemical weapons. This was not the first time that the Syrian regime has used chemical weapons against civilians but it must be the last.” -European Union Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker
  • “Belgium strongly condemns all use of chemical weapons which are a blatant violation of international law. Belgium therefore understands the military action in Syria of our American, French and British partners who have targeted identified production facilities.” -Belgian government statement

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