04/13/2018 22:38 EDT | Updated 04/13/2018 23:24 EDT

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau Says Canada Supports Attack On Syrian Targets

U.S. strikes are in retaliation for chemical-weapons attacks there.

Lars Hagberg/Canadian Press
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says Canada supports U.S. strikes on Syria.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says Canada supports military strikes on Syria.

"Canada supports the decision by the United States, the United Kingdom, and France to take action to degrade the Assad regime's ability to launch chemical weapons attacks against its own people," Trudeau said in a statement.

U.S. President Donald Trump announced Friday night that the U.S., along with Britain and France, launched "precision strikes" on targets associated with Syrian chemical weapons program.

Earlier in the day, Canada became the latest to lay the blame for a deadly chemical-weapons attack in Syria last week at Syrian President Bashar Assad's doorstep, despite Russian suggestions to the contrary.

"When it comes to this use of chemical weapons, it is clear to Canada that chemical weapons were used and that they were used by the Assad regime," Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said Friday.

Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press
Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland stands during question period in the House of Commons.

More than 40 people were killed and 500 injured — including women and children — after poison gas was used in an attack on Douma, a rebel-held enclave near the Syrian capital of Damascus, on April 7.

The Syrian government has denied responsibility and Russia has suggested Israel or Britain was to blame, the latter to justify increased western intervention into the war-ravaged country.

Freeland did not specify how she knew that the Syrian government was responsible, though she said Canada is working with non-governmental organizations and others to collect evidence of war crimes and other atrocities in Syria.

Injured victims of an alleged chemical attack rest in rebels-held Douma, Syria, 08 April 2018.

"We have seen as a pattern in the world today is actors who behave in a reprehensible manner, then can be quite clever in trying to muddy the waters and in trying to dodge responsibility," she added.

"Of course, it is important for Canada to be a country that acts based on facts. But it is equally important for us to be aware of the distraction tactics that some of the actors in the world are using today and to not allow those tactics to work."

Freeland made the comments on the sidelines of a major international summit, which U.S. President Donald Trump has skipped to oversee a potential military response to the chemical-weapons attack.

... it is clear to Canada that chemical weapons were used and that they were used by the Assad regimeForeign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland

U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence is attending the Summit of the Americas in Trump's stead, and is scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Saturday.

"I think it is completely understandable that the president would feel that, given this crisis situation, he would need to be at home," Freeland said, adding that the Canadian delegation is looking forward to its meeting with Pence.

With files from HuffPost Canada

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