Dutch govt. "understands" U.S. missile retaliation to Syrian poison gas attack
The Dutch government "understands" the United States' cruise missile attack on a Syrian air base in retaliation to a poison gas attack in Syria earlier this week, Prime Minister Mark Rutte, Deputy Prime Minister Lodewijk Asscher and Foreign Affairs Minister Bert Koenders all said before the cabinet meeting on Friday, NU.nl reports.
During the early hours of Friday morning the United States fired 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles at the Shayrat base, near Homs. It was in retaliation for poison gas attacks earlier this week in which dozens of civilians were killed. One man, Abdel Hameed al-Youssef, lost at least 19 family members, including his wife and their 9-month-old twins.
Asscher hopes this retaliatory action will serve as a warning that these kinds of poison gas attacks can not be allowed. Koenders agreed, adding that this should be used to de-escalate the situation. "We must return ot the path of the UN. It is important that this should contribute to a return to the negotiating table."
"Syrian president Bashar al-Assad must also know that you can't simply get away with the use of chemical weapons", Koenders said, according to the Telegraaf. "He violated that a number of times, regardless of what happened this last time."
Rutte called the missile strike a "proportional reaction".
The Assad regime is believed responsible for the deadly poison gas attack on a rebel stronghold in northern Syria on Tuesday. The Syrian government and Russia both deny involvement, pointing fingers to rebels.
The U.S. charge d'affaires in the Netherlands briefed the Dutch government and the Ministry of General Affairs on the attack, according to NU.nl.
The Netherlands is fighting against terrorist organization Islamic State in Syria and Iraq along with an international coalition. Until the summer of 2016 the Netherlands performed air strikes with F-16's. Now Dutch soldiers are training Kurdish forces. The Assad regime is not a target for the Netherlands.