Syria strikes expose Arab divisions on eve of summit

CAIRO (dpa)- US-led strikes in Syria on Saturday polarized Arabs, a day before their leaders are to meet for an annual Arab League summit.
Locked in a bitter months-old diplomatic row, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, however, declared their backing for the strikes. Both Gulf countries are major US allies in the turbulent region.
Riyadh and Doha blamed the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for the necessity of the strikes, citing a suspected chemical attack on a rebel town near Damascus last week.

Saudi Arabia, which hosts Sunday's long-planned gathering, gave its "full" support to the strikes, which were also launched by Britain and France.
Egypt, a third US ally, voiced “grave concern” over the repercussions of the strikes and called for a “transparent and international” investigation into the alleged Douma attack.
Iraq, a neighbour of Syria, warned of their “dangerous” repercussions for the region. Baghdad said the US-led action could "give a new chance" to militants, who have in recent months suffered significant setbacks in Iraq and Syria.
Lebanon, another neighbour of Syria, was outright in rejecting the strikes. “Lebanon refuses any foreign aggression targeting any Arab country, regardless of the cited reasons,” Lebanese President Michel Aoun said in a statement.
Lebanon has felt the spillover from the Syrian civil war. The country hosts some 1.5 million Syrians displaced by more than seven years of war in their homeland.
Syria has not been invited to Sunday's Arab summit. Syria’s membership at the Arab League was suspended in late 2011.

Saturday, April 14th 2018

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