Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says New Zealand accepts why the US, UK and France today launched a strike on Syria.

"This morning the Government was advised that targeted military action would be taken in response to the latest chemical weapons attack in Syria," Ardern said in a statement.

READ MORE: Live: United States and allies launch airstrikes on Syria, President Donald Trump announces

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has released a statement on the US strike on Syria. Photo/file
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has released a statement on the US strike on Syria. Photo/file

"The Government has always favoured diplomatic efforts and a multilateral approach. The use of the veto powers at the Security Council prevented that course of action. We have always condemned the use of the veto, including by Russia in this case.

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"New Zealand therefore accepts why the US, UK and France have today responded to the grave violation of international law, and the abhorrent use of chemical weapons against civilians.

"The action was intended to prevent further such atrocities being committed against Syrian civilians."

US President Donald Trump ordered a military attack against Syrian President Bashar Assad, joining allies Britain and France in launching missile strikes in retaliation for what Western nations said was the deliberate gassing of Syrian civilians.

Ardern said New Zealand stands firm in its condemnation of the use of chemical weapons in Eastern Ghouta.

"This is clearly in breach of international law," she said.

"It is now important that these issues are returned to the United Nations multilateral processes including the Security Council," Jacinda Ardern said.

National's foreign affairs spokesman Todd McClay has also come out in support of the strike.

"National condemns the use of chemical weapons in Syria in the strongest possible terms," McClay said in a statement.

"There is no place for chemical weapons to be used at any time. New Zealand must express support for the action being taken against the Syria regime by the US, UK and France."

The coordinated strike marks the second time in a year that Trump has used force against Assad, who U.S. officials believe has continued to test the West's willingness to accept gruesome chemical attacks.

Trump announced the strikes in an address to the nation Friday evening (1pm NZT).

"The purpose of our action tonight is to establish a strong deterrent," he said, against the production and use of chemical weapons, describing the issue as vital to national security. Trump added that the United States is prepared "to sustain this response" until its aims are met.

Trump asked both Russia and Iran, backers of Assad, "what kind of nation wants to be associated" with mass murder and suggested that someday the United States might be able to "get along" with both if they change their policies.