Turkey welcomed the US air strike on a Syrian airbase early Friday as a “positive” move and urged the international community to maintain its stance against the “barbarism” of President Bashar al-Assad.

Bashar al-Assad

“We welcome this as positive but… we believe that the Assad regime must be punished completely in the international arena,” Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus told Turkey’s Fox TV in an interview, quoted by state-run news agency Anadolu.

“The international community must maintain its stance clearly against this barbarism,” said Kurtulmus, who is also government spokesman.

He described the strikes against the base as “significant” and “meaningful” after civilians had been targeted and there were victims “presumably” of chemical weapons.

“The Assad regime’s barbarism must be stopped at once,” Kurtulmus said, saying the peace process should hasten a “fair” and “lasting” peace for the people.

“I hope that this United States operation will contribute to securing peace.”

Turkey has repeatedly called for Assad to go while Russia and Iran remain the president’s most important allies in the more than six-year war.

US President Donald Trump ordered a military strike on the base in retaliation for what he said was a “very barbaric attack” after dozens were killed early on Tuesday in Khan Sheikhun in Idlib, northwestern Syria.

The Turkish health ministry on Thursday said initial analysis suggested victims were exposed to the deadly nerve agent sarin.

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