Loud explosions were heard and plumes of smoke were seen rising from Damascus, capital of Syria, before daybreak on April 14.
The United States, Britain and France carried out a wave of joint airstrikes on Syrian military facilities, without UN authorization.
US President Donald Trump announced the military operation on April 13, saying it was intended to deter the Syrian Government, which the US suspects carried out a chemical weapon attack on April 7. It is universally acknowledged that all use of chemical weapons should be punished.
However, the Syrian government denied it had used chemical weapons, saying the accusation had been used as an excuse to attack the country. It called on the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons to investigate the alleged attack.
Russian President Vladimir Putin also called the strike “an act of aggression” against a sovereign state. In a statement, he said Russia strongly condemned it.
On April 14, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying urged the relevant parties to return to the framework of international law and resolve the issue through dialogue.
She said that China believes a comprehensive, impartial and objective investigation should be carried out to reach a reliable conclusion. “Yet, before that, a prejudgment should not be made,” she said.
The United Nations Security Council on the same day held an emergency meeting at Russia’s request, but failed to approve a resolution condemning the bombing.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said there is no military solution, only a political one. “I urge all member states to show restraint in these dangerous circumstances and to avoid any acts that could escalate matters and worsen the suffering of the Syrian people,” he said.
In the US, a series of protests were held in cities against the airstrikes on Syria. On April 14, many anti-war protesters gathered outside the White House, chanting “Hands off Syria”, holding banners featuring slogans such as “No US War on Syria” and “Bombing Syria Doesn’t Protect People. It Kills Them.”
“The most urgent task now is to hold a comprehensive, objective and impartial investigation of the alleged chemical weapon attack, not to show who has a bigger gun,” commented Xinhua News Agency.
“The UN should play a central role in that effort and all others should help to cool down the situation as soon as possible,” it added.