The European Union is pushing for a political solution to the Syrian civil war following the chemical attack in the town of Khan Sheikhoun and subsequent air strikes by the United States. European leaders offered varying levels of support to Thursday’s U.S. missile strikes on Syrian government forces with reactions from EU governments and ranging from tepid expressions of “comprehension” to outright embrace.
EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said in a statement that the use of chemical weapons “must be answered,” and that the US air strikes were aimed “to deter further [chemical] attacks.” Federica Mogherini, the head of the European diplomacy, reiterated that the EU firmly believes that there can be no military solution to the conflict stressing that the EU is committed to the unity, sovereignty, territorial integrity, and independence of the Syrian State. She said that only a credible political solution would ensure peace and stability in Syria and enable a decisive defeat of Da’esh and other UN-designated terrorist groups in Syria.
The United States has informed the European Union that they launched a strike on Shayrat Airfield in Syria based on their assessment of what US President Donald Trump called “horrible chemical weapons attack”. In the meantime, the US Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, said that Iran and Russia bore “heavy responsibility” for the chemical attack, either by allowing the regime to use such weapons or “incompetent” oversight of their ally’s obligations. “The world is waiting for Russia to reconsider its misplaced alliance with Bashar al-Assad,” she stressed and added that “the United States will no longer wait.”
Russia was swift to react to the US attacks, saying that Washington had violated international law “under a false pretext” and warned of “extremely serious” consequences that could follow. Russian Prime Minister said that the strike was unjustified and “completely ruined relations”. The Kremlin also announced that it would bolster the regime’s air defenses but did not confirm whether it would cut off the “deconfliction” hotline that both sides are using to avoid clashes between the US and Russian forces.