Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has said Australia is in full support of the United States in its missile attack against a Syrian airfield.
The strike reportedly involving 59 tomahawk cruise missiles launched from US naval vessels was, according to the administration of President Donald Trump, in direct response to what it says was a chemical weapons attack launched from the airfield earlier this week by the regime of Syrian president Bashar Al Assad against his country’s own people.
The Australian prime minister said in a press conference following the strike that his government had been notified about the attack prior to it taking place and that Australian forces in the region were not involved, but that Australia fully supported the action against the use of chemical weapons.
“It is a proportionate and calibrated response to stop that airfield being used to deliver chemical weapons again, but we are not at war with the Assad regime and the US has made that clear also,” Mr Turnbull said.
“As a coalition partner we were advised shortly before the attack and we support the US in that action.
“The use of those weapons under any circumstances is illegal and abhorrent and a blatant contravention of the basic principles of humanity.
“Australian was not involved but we remain committed to our ongoing military operations in Iraq and Syria.
“This was a single strike designed to send the strongest possible signal that this conduct will not be tolerated.
He went on to emphasise that the Syrian regime’s apparent use of chemical weapons justified the US response and that he agreed with President Trump’s call for the “civilised world” to unite in ending the conflict in the region.
“It was shocking and horrific even by the standards of this brutal war,” he said of the apparent chemical weapons use.
“We have a role to play in the eastern part of the country in our effort to defend Iraq against Daesh or ISIL. That is the role we have been playing.
“The whole world is crying out for a settlement in Syria and this is a time now when the United States have shown that they will not tolerate these crimes, when the United States has shown its full force in response to this shocking chemical attack, surely now is the time when the nations of the world and the great powers engaged in the Syrian conflict zone can come together and bring this war to an end.”