Published: Tue, April 17, 2018
People | By Leon Thompson

Syria: PM to insist United Kingdom airstrikes were in 'national interest'

Syria: PM to insist United Kingdom airstrikes were in 'national interest'

"The UK prime minister is accountable to parliament, not to the whims of a U.S. president", he wrote in a weekend letter to May and reiterated in the House of Commons on Monday.

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson insisted the strikes - co-ordinated with action by the United States and France - were "right for the UK and right for the world".

"You see a kind of continuum of from Salisbury to Syria in the reckless, contemptuous use of these chemical weapons, endangering public health in Salisbury in Wiltshire and completely indiscriminately killing children cowering in buildings in Douma in eastern Ghouta", he said.

The British government is not legally bound to seek lawmakers' approval for military strikes, although it is customary to do so.

But Mrs May said this would effectively give Russian Federation a "veto on our foreign policy" as the country has blocked previous resolutions on Syria.

Ms May said the presence of helicopters and the use of barrel bombs pointed the finger of blame squarely at the Government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. She is now enjoying worldwide support for her action in Syria and against Moscow over a nerve agent attack on a former Russian spy in Britain.

"The Syrian regime has reportedly been attempting to hide the evidence by searching evacuees from Douma to ensure samples are not being smuggled from this area", she said.

She said there had been at least four chemical attacks in the a year ago, claiming this meant Bashar Al Assad felt he could use chemicals with impunity and it was becoming a "pattern".

In an unusual move, the British government said it would seek an emergency House of Commons debate on the airstrikes so legislators could have their say. SO24 votes are typically on bland motions acknowledging the existence of the debate, although opposition parties have previously submitted stronger-worded motions.

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When asked what would happen in the event of further chemical attacks, May said she would be willing to order further airstrikes against Syria, refusing to commit to consulting parliament beforehand.

"It is right that parliament has the power to support or stop the government from taking planned military action".

"We have done it because we believe it was the right thing to do - and we are not alone".

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, writing in The Guardian, said: "The military action at the weekend was legally questionable".

Corbyn also refuted May's claim that diplomatic action did not work, as such talks had led to the destruction of 600 tonnes worth of Syria's chemical weapons stockpile in 2013.

She said the attacks were not about "regime change" or "intervening in a civil war", but were to "deter the use of chemical weapons" by the Syrian government.

He said the action was "not an attempt to change the tide of the war in Syria or to have regime change". Under the French Constitution, the government must inform the parliament, but a vote is requested only if a military intervention is expected to last more than four months.

"It is in our national interest to prevent the further use of chemical weapons in Syria - and to uphold and defend the global consensus that these weapons should not be used".

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