(WASHINGTON) — NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg says Russia’s obstruction course at the U.N. Security Council left NATO’s U.S, British and French allies no option but to launch a missile attack on key Syrian installations.
Stoltenberg said after a debriefing of NATO ambassadors by the three allies Saturday that “before the attack took place last night, NATO allies exhausted all other possible ways to address this issue to the UNSC by diplomatic and political means.”
He added, “But since this was blocked by Russia, there was no other alternative.”
Stoltenberg says, “I am not saying that the attacks last night solved all problems but compared to the alternative to do nothing this was the right thing to do.”
A U.S.-led airstrike campaign against Syria was in response to a suspected chemical attack against civilians last weekend.
Vice President Mike Pence says the airstrikes on Syria “degraded and crippled” the country’s chemical weapons capability.
Pence told Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on the sidelines of a summit in Peru on Saturday that President Donald Trump “made it clear to the world” that the United States “will not tolerate these chemical weapons.”
And he says the U.S. is “prepared to sustain this effort if necessary.”
Pence is filling in for Trump at the Summit of the Americas in Lima.
Pence says he’s hopeful that Russia and Iran will “once and for all abandon chemical weapons” against innocent civilians.
Trudeau has called the airstrikes “unfortunate but necessary.”
The Pentagon says a Russian “disinformation campaign” has already begun over the airstrikes.
Chief Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White said Saturday that “there has been a 2,000 percent increase in Russian trolls in the past 24 hours.”
The U.S., Britain and France said they launched Saturday’s strike to punish Syrian President Bashar Assad for a suspected chemical attack against civilians in the town of Douma outside Damascus. Opposition leaders and rescuers say more than 40 people, including many women and children, died in the suspected chemical attack.
Russia’s Foreign Ministry says the attack was an attempt to derail an investigation into a purported chemical attack. The Foreign Ministry says facts presented by Russian investigators indicated that the purported attack was a “premeditated and cynical sham.”