Published: Mon, April 16, 2018

British ministers back action to deter Syrian chemical weapon use

British ministers back action to deter Syrian chemical weapon use

Syria and Russia have denied using poisonous gas in Douma on April 7, with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov saying that Moscow had evidence that the attack in Douma was staged.

"Training exercises were clearly already under way at RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus in preparation for a possible counterattack by the Russians", says The Guardian.

Videos and photos from the site of the attack, along with witness testimony contradicted that, and on Thursday, the USA reportedly received physical evidence. But on Thursday, Trump tweeted: "Never said when an attack on Syria would take place".

Speaking on TF1 television, Macron said that France would not tolerate "regimes that think everything is permitted".

"France will shoulder its responsibility to end an intolerable threat to our collective security", he added, before calling for an end to the "chemical weapons escalation in Syria".

Formally, the prime minister has the right to go to war without approval from parliament, but a convention has been established in previous conflicts where MPs have a vote either before or shortly after military action begins.

The government said it is "highly likely" that Assad is responsible for the Douma attack, with ministers agreeing "it was vital that the use of chemical weapons did not go unchallenged". "Not to react is to prove to the rest of the world that what we say does not matter".

Echoing the United States stance, France said Assad's government had reached a "point of no return" with repeated use of chemical weapons.

After meeting for more than two hours, the Cabinet gave May the green light to join the USA and France in planning possible strikes, but also left open the possibility of other responses.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis warned that such an attack could spin out of control, suggesting caution in advance of a decision on how to respond to an attack against civilians last weekend that US officials are increasingly certain involved the use of banned chemical weapons.

But rival politicians and some Conservative colleagues have called for a parliamentary vote before any British involvement.

May is not obliged to win parliament's approval, but a non-binding constitutional convention to do so has been established since a 2003 vote on joining the USA -led invasion of Iraq.

Some MPs have backed Britain acting against Syria, warning that the use of chemical weapons was in breach of worldwide law and could not be allowed to go unpunished.

Post-World War II Germany typically has been reluctant to engage in military action, and parliamentary approval is required for any military missions overseas.

But they backed action in Iraq the following year, and again in Syria in 2015, strictly limiting strikes to Islamic State (IS) group targets.

"I'm not ready to speculate that that would happen", Mattis said.

France already has some 1,100 troops involved in its Operation Chammal, created in 2014 to fight Islamic State extremists in Iraq and extended in 2015 to Syria, as part of the USA -led coalition.

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