Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud has called US President Donald Trump to praise in person Washington’s recent missile strike against a Syrian army air base.
During the phone conversation on Friday, King Salman congratulated US President Donald for what was said to be his “courageous decision,” the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported.
Meanwhile, a Saudi Foreign Ministry official told the SPA that the kingdom “fully supports the US military operations against military targets in Syria.”
Trump’s missile launch was the right response to the Syrian government as the international community has failed to put a halt to Damascus’ actions, the official further claimed.
Early on Friday, US warships in the Mediterranean launched a barrage of 59 Tomahawk missiles against Shayrat Airfield in Syria’s Homs Province. Damascus denounced the US assault as a “blatant aggression” that killed up to 15 people, including civilians, and caused “significant material damage.”
Saudi Arabia was among the first parties to speak out in praise of the Friday attack, expressing full support for the American military strike.
Riyadh, which has long pushed for the ouster of the Syrian government, stands accused of supporting anti-Damascus Takfiri groups both ideologically and materially.
Takfirism, which is a characteristic of many terrorist groups operating in the region, is largely influenced by Wahhabism, the radical ideology dominating Saudi Arabia.
The kingdom is a member of the US-led coalition, which has been conducting air raids against what are said to be Daesh terrorists inside Syria since September 2014 without any authorization from Damascus or a UN mandate.
Last February, Saudi Arabia offered for the first time to send ground troops to Syria to fight Daesh.
“The kingdom is ready to participate in any ground operations that the coalition (against Isis) may agree to carry out in Syria,” said military spokesman Brigadier General Ahmed al-Asiri in an interview with al-Arabiya TV news.
The Saudi bid was a source of tensions with former US president Barack Obama.
#HandsOffSyria: US Cities Protest Trump’s Missile Strikes
Anti-war demonstrators in over ten U.S. cities held protests on Friday in response to President Donald Trump’s recent cruise missile strikes on a Syrian air base, which killed up to 15 people, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Using the social media hashtag #HandsOffSyria, groups like the International Action Center, IAC, the ANSWER coalition and Code Pink rallied hundreds of people to denounce renewed U.S. war in the Middle East. The largest actions took place in New York City, Los Angeles and Washington D.C., NBC New York reports.
“It doesn’t matter who is in the White House. The U.S. military and the corporations will always wage wars,” IAC co-director and protest organizer Sara Flounders said at the New York City rally, RT reports.
“Let us not forget that the U.S. government insisted that it was required to go to war in Iraq to prevent the government of Saddam Hussein from using weapons of mass destruction. No such weapons existed in 2003,” the Los Angeles branch of ANSWER said in a statement.
In both cities, demonstrators held signs that read “Hands Off Syria,” “U.S. Out of the Middle East,” and “Another War Built On Lies.” In Washington D.C., police shut down the Pentagon Metro stop in response to #HandsoffSyria protesters, according to the IAC.
And in Chicago, protesters chanted: “Hey, Hey, Donald J: How many kids have you killed today?” CBS Chicago reports. The chant is a rendition of the old Vietnam War-era slogan directed then at President Lyndon B. Johnson.
Protests were also held in Detroit, Buffalo, Anchorage, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Chicago and Richmond. Additional actions are being planned in Salt Lake City, Minneapolis, New Orleans and Boston in the coming days.
The U.S. launched dozens of tomahawk cruise missiles at the Shayrat air base in Homs Thursday night. The Russian Defense Ministry claims that only 23 of 59 missiles reached the intended target, with the remainder landing in nearby villages. Syrian media sources report that 15 civilians died in the attack, including four children.
The attack was a response to an alleged Sarin gas attack on the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhoun. The incident claimed 89 lives, including 33 children and 18 women, according to local opposition authorities.
Lambasting the United States’ aggression against Syria, Bolivian Ambassador to the United Nations Sacha Llorenti compared the basis for the unilateral move to former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell’s infamous 2003 presentation to the body, when fraudulent evidence of an alleged Iraqi weapons program was presented to justify the U.S. war on Iraq.
“I believe it’s vital for us to remember what history teaches us and on this occasion (in 2003), the United States did affirm, they affirmed that they had all the proof necessary to show that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction but they were never found … never were they found,” Llorenti told the emergency Security Council meeting on Friday.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has called for the formation of an “impartial” international fact-finding committee to look into a purported chemical attack in Syria’s Idlib Province that left dozens of people dead.
“An international fact-finding mission should be formed to shed light on the issue,” Rouhani said at the National Summit of the Economy of Resistance and Rural Development in Tehran on Thursday.
“Of course, biased sides should not be included in the mission and the US should not lead it, but the issue should rather be investigated by impartial countries to find out where chemical weapons had come from, who had brought them in or whether there were any chemical weapons involved or not,” he added.
Tuesday’s alleged gas attack in the Idlib town of Khan Shaykhun killed at least 86 people.
Anti-Damascus militants and Western countries rushed to blame Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for the Idlib incident, without providing any evidence to support their accusations.
Russia and Syria say the army’s airstrike had targeted a depot where terrorists stockpiled chemical weapons.
Using the Idlib tragedy as a pretext, US President Donald Trump ordered Washington’s warships in the eastern Mediterranean to launch a missile strike against Shayrat Airfield in Syria’s Homs Province on Friday, which Washington alleged was the origin of the alleged chemical attacks.
Elsewhere in his remarks, Rouhani slammed the US for taking unilateral military action against Syria and killing innocents, saying the Americans see themselves as the “world leader” and “world’s gendarme.”
“The man (Trump), who now rules the US, claimed that he wanted to fight terrorists, but with this move, all terrorists in Syria are happy and celebrating,” he added.
The Iranian chief executive further denounced the assault on Shayrat Airfield as “a heinous and outrageous act of aggression” that ran contrary to all international principles, adding that the Americans even bypassed their own Congress and did not ask for its permission.
On a Twitter post on Friday, President Rouhani had censured the attack and said the aggression would boost terrorism in the region and strengthen lawlessness and instability in the world.
The US aggression has drawn widespread condemnations, with Syria accusing Washington of acting as an “accomplice” to terrorist groups operating in the Arab country.
On Friday, the Iranian Foreign Ministry strongly condemned Washington’s missile attack and said the airstrike will only “strengthen the dying terrorist groups and complicate the situation in Syria and the region.”