Pence tells Netanyahu: US appreciates Israel’s support for Syria strike

http://www.timesofisrael.com/us-thanks-israel-for-support-on-syria-strike-pence-tells-netanyahu/

 

The administration of US President Donald Trump thanked Israel on Friday for its support for Washington’s overnight strike on a Syrian airbase in response to a chemical attack on Syrian civilians earlier this week attributed to Syrian military forces.

The Prime Minister’s Office said US Vice President Mike Pence called Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and “thanked him – on behalf of US President Donald Trump – for Israel’s strong support for the American action in Syria.”

Pence also updated Netanyahu “on the details of the action and its results,” the statement said, adding that the prime minister “reiterated the need to prevent the spread and use of chemical weapons.”

The vice president and the prime minister also “emphasized the strength of the alliance between Israel and the US.”

Israel was one of the first states to welcome the US’s strike overnight Thursday-Friday which saw at least 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles launched from two American naval destroyers in the eastern Mediterranean strike the Shayrat Airfield north of Damascus.

The strike, ordered by Trump, came as retaliation for a deadly chemical weapons attack Tuesday in the northern Syrian province of Idlib that left at least 86 people dead, including 27 children, and allegedly employed the nerve agent sarin. Footage of people and children choking on the gas prompted outrage across the globe.

The US and other Western powers have blamed the regime of Bashar Assad for the attack, but Damascus has denied it used chemical weapons.

In a statement released about three hours after the US strike, Netanyahu praised the American move, as did Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman and the Israeli military.

The Israel Defense Forces said Friday it was informed by the US ahead of the military strike and that it expressed its support for the operation during the talks.

This frame grab from video provided by Ikhbaria TV, a Syrian pro-government TV channel that is consistent with independent AP reporting, shows flames rising from US Tomahawk missiles which hit the Shayrat air base, southeast of Homs, Syria, early Friday April, 7, 2017. The Arabic on the screen reads: 'Around the Shayrat airport, top right, the first moments of the American aggression on the air base in the central region, center bottom.' (Ikhbaria TV, via AP)

“In both word and action, President Trump sent a strong and clear message today that the use and spread of chemical weapons will not be tolerated,” Netanyahu said in a statement by his office.

He added: “Israel fully supports President Trump’s decision and hopes that this message of resolve in the face of the Assad regime’s horrific actions will resonate not only in Damascus, but in Tehran, Pyongyang and elsewhere.”

Liberman called the Tomahawk missile strike “an important, necessary and moral message by the free world, led by the United States.”

The attack on the Syrian airfield shows that the world “will not tolerate the war crimes of the horrific regime of Bashar Assad,” Liberman said.

Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz said the operation “restored America’s regional leadership in a big way.”

President Reuven Rivlin said the US move was a “fitting response to such unthinkable brutality, and an example to the entire free world.” Opposition leader Isaac Herzog on Friday also hailed the strike, saying it came at the “right time and in the right place.”

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