Iran leader Khamenei con­demns at­tacks as al­lies of­fer sup­port

The Sunday Telegraph - - Syria Strikes - By Alec Luhn

AY­A­TOL­LAH ALI KHAMENEI, Iran’s supreme leader, has de­nounced Theresa May, Don­ald Trump and Em­manuel Macron as “crim­i­nals” af­ter the UK, the US and France launched missile strikes in Syria.

The attack against three regime fa­cil­i­ties be­lieved to be linked to the chem­i­cal atroc­ity in Douma last week drew con­dem­na­tion from Syria’s al­lies, but sup­port from its re­gional ri­vals and from Western coun­tries.

Tehran ar­gued the Bri­tish, US and French ac­tion would lead to more de­struc­tion and sug­gested it could ramp up its sup­port for Bashar al-As­sad’s regime in the bloody con­flict.

“They will not ben­e­fit as they went to Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan in the past years and com­mit­ted such crimes and did not gain any ben­e­fits,” Mr Khamenei said.

China, a UN se­cu­rity coun­cil mem­ber that ab­stained from a vote on a US res­o­lu­tion to in­ves­ti­gate the Syria chem­i­cal attack last week, of­fered a care­fully worded crit­i­cism of the “use of force” against the regime.

Its for­eign min­istry said uni­lat­eral mil­i­tary ac­tion by­pass­ing the se­cu­rity coun­cil would “add new com­pli­cat­ing fac­tors to the res­o­lu­tion of the Syr­ian is­sue”. De­spite its calls for a po­lit­i­cal so­lu­tion, China has ve­toed ini­tia­tives ves to solve the con­flict, in­clud­ing war crimes in­ves­ti­ga­tions.

Israel and Turkey, which have in the past made their own armed in­ter­ven­tions into the Syria con­flict, both hailed the strikes as a nec­es­sary re­sponse to chem­i­cal weapons use.

“Syria con­tin­ues to carry out mur­der­ous ac­tions and be a base for these ac­tions and oth­ers, in­clud­ing Iran’s, that put its ter­ri­tory, forces and lead­er­ship in peril,” an Is­raeli of­fi­cial said, speak­ing anony­mously ac­cord­ing to pro­to­col.

Israel has is­sued sev­eral stern warn­ings re­cently about Iran’s in­creased in­volve­ment along its border in Syria in Le­banon. Re­cep Tayyip Er­doğan, the Turk­ish pres­i­dent, said the strikes had shown the Syr­ian regime that “its mount­ing at­tacks in re­cent days against dis­si­dents ... will not be left unan­swered”.

Saudi Ara­bia, a key US ally in the Mid­dle East, ac­cused the As­sad regime of “crimes” crim and said it “fully sup­ports the strik strikes” in re­sponse. Saudi Ara­bia and oth other Gulf states have been key back­ers of Syr­ian op­po­si­tion groups. In Bru Brus­sels, Don­ald Tusk, the Euro­pean Co Coun­cil pres­i­dent, tweeted that the bom bomb­ings “make it clear that Syr­ian regime t to­gether with Rus­sia & Iran can­not cont con­tinue this hu­man tragedy” and the EU would stand with the UK, US and Fr France “on the side of jus­tice”. “Th “The EU is sup­port­ive of all ef­forts aimed at the pre­ven­tion of the use of chem chem­i­cal weapons,” said Fed­er­ica Moghe Mogherini, the for­eign af­fairs chief. She cal called on Rus­sia and Iran to “use their in­flu­ence to pre­vent any fur- ther use of chem­i­cal weapons, no­tably by the Syr­ian regime”.

Boris John­son will meet with EU for­eign min­is­ters in Lux­em­bourg to­mor­row at a meet­ing to dom­i­nated by the strikes on Syria. Min­is­ters are ex­pected to back lan­guage con­demn­ing the use of chem­i­cal weapons in the con­clu­sions of the For­eign Af­fairs Coun­cil.

An­gela Merkel, the Ger­man chan­cel­lor, who on Thurs­day had ruled out join­ing any mil­i­tary ac­tion against Syria, com­mended the strikes as “nec­es­sary and ap­pro­pri­ate”.

While Canada de­clined to par­tic­i­pate in the strikes, Justin Trudeau, its prime min­is­ter, said it “sup­ports the de­ci­sion by the United States, the United King­dom, and France to take ac­tion to de­grade the As­sad regime’s abil­ity to launch chem­i­cal weapons at­tacks against its own peo­ple”.

Mal­colm Turn­bull, the Aus­tralian prime min­is­ter, called on Rus­sia and Iran to stop the As­sad regime’s “abuse of in­ter­na­tional law and hu­man rights”.

Ay­a­tol­lah Ali Khamenei has de­scribed the UK, US and France as ‘crim­i­nals’ for airstrikes

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