4/16/18 – NATO chief defends West’s airstrikes on Syria

BEIRUT (AP) — The Latest on developments following the U.S.-led airstrikes on Syria:  NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has defended the weekend’s airstrikes in Syria, saying the international community had to uphold the international ban on the use of chemical weapons.

Stoltenberg spoke at a joint news conference with Turkey’s foreign minister on Monday, after airstrikes by the United States, France and Britain that hit Syria.

He says Russia had “again and again” prevented an independent investigation by the U.N. and that this left “NATO allies no other alternative than to act the way they acted.”

He says the Western alliance “cannot be silent where chemical weapons are used” and that “there was more than enough reason to act and not to act would be to erode the ban on chemical weapons.”

The NATO chief is in Turkey for talks with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and other officials.

The night-time Syria assault was limited to minimize civilian casualties and to avoid direct conflict with Syria’s key ally, Russia.