Norwegian Foreign Minister Børge Brende said on Friday that the Norwegian government can “understand” why the US attacked a Syrian airbase believed responsible for bombing civilians with chemical weapons earlier in the week.
“The situation is complicated,” Brende told reporters in Beijing, where he and Prime Minister Erna Solberg are in the midst of a long-sought official visit to China. “But from the Norwegian side, we have understanding for the reaction to the gruesome attack earlier this week.”
Brende, who just finished leading a follow-up meeting to last year’s donors conference on aid to Syria’s war-torn residents and refugees, said the US attack, ordered by new US President Donald Trump, seemed to be limited and concentrated on military targets. It reportedly involved the firing of several missiles from US naval vessels moored in the Mediterranean that were aimed at runways, hangars, the Shayrat air base’s control tower and ammunition storage in Homs province.
Brende said the chemical attack on civilians “showed in all clarity the brutality of the war in Syria” that has killed more than 400,000 people in the past six years. Norway has earlier condemned Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s alleged use of chemical weapons and attacks on civilians. Syria’s government has denied it was behind this week’s attacks.
Other Norwegian politicians from the Progress, Liberal and Socialist Left (SV) parties also condemned the attacks but were not supporting the US attacks on the Syrian air base. In a rare example of agreement between the right-wing Progress Party, the centrist Liberals and left-wing SV, party officials called the US attack risky and unwise because “we can’t see what the consequences will be.”
Brende, meanwhile, announced earlier this week that Norway will donate at least NOK 2.3 billion in foreign aid to Syrian war victims in 2017.