Trump talks with British, French leaders over strikes on Syria

Monday, 16 Apr, 2018

British Prime Minister Theresa May on Saturday linked the alleged use of chemical weapons by the Syrian Government with the attack on a former Russian spy and his daughter in Britain, saying the allied airstrike was meant to deter all such acts.

May said the aim was to deter the Syrian regime authorities from further use of chemical weapons and to send a message to the wider world that it was unacceptable to use such weapons.

She said that at an emergency cabinet meeting in London on Thursday "we agreed that it was both right and legal to take military action" after hearing legal advice.

It added that it believed the Syrian government had committed a "war crime and a crime against humanity" with chemical weapons use and that attempts to find a unified worldwide approach through the United Nations had been blocked by Damascus-ally Moscow.

Britain's defence ministry said in a statement that four British Tornado jets had fired Storm Shadow missiles at the base 15 miles (24 kilometres) west of Homs at 0100 GMT.

"UK foreign policy should be set by parliament, not the U.S. president", she said.

"We can not allow the use of chemical weapons to become normalised - within Syria, on the streets of the United Kingdom, or anywhere else in our world", she said.

Stop the War, a pacifist coalition once chaired by Corbyn, has called a demonstration outside the British parliament on Monday to protest the strikes.

At a press conference at 10 Downing Street, May said the military strikes were "limited and targeted", created to degrade the Syrian regime's ability to develop and use chemical weapons.

"Very careful scientific analysis was applied to determine where best to target the Storm Shadows to maximise the destruction of the stockpiled chemicals and to minimise any risks of contamination to the surrounding area".

Polls in recent days have shown public wariness of military intervention in Syria, with Britain still haunted by its participation in the US-led invasion of Iraq.

Often when the British government decides on military action, the opposition offers its full support.

They also discussed the need to reinvigorate multinational stabilization efforts in Syria to ensure the long-term defeat of Islamic State (IS).

"This action risks not just further escalating the civil war in Syria but also a risky escalation of worldwide tensions", said the leader of the left-wing Scottish National Party, the third-biggest force in the British parliament.

But Labour's Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the largest opposition party, said the move was "legally questionable".

It does not sit again until Monday, when May will face MPs' questions on the strikes.

When asked if Syria's Assad could remain leader as long as he refrained from further use of chemical weapons, May said: "This was about, as I have said and you have recognized, this was specifically about the use of chemical weapons".