Published: Sun, April 15, 2018
People | By Neil Grant

PM May Wrong To Snub UK Parliament On Syria Strikes, Opposition Says

PM May Wrong To Snub UK Parliament On Syria Strikes, Opposition Says

Air strikes by Britain, France and the United States in Syria sent a "clear message" against the use of chemical weapons, British Prime Minister Theresa May said on Saturday.

According to the White House, Trump and Macron affirmed in the call on Saturday that the joint airstrikes were "successful and necessary" to deter Syria from any further use of chemical weapons, Xinhua news agency reported.

The group said it "strongly condemned" the action and accused May of "sanctioning killing" at US President Donald Trump's behest.

Answering a question on the legality of Britain's action early Saturday, May said she believed that "it was the right thing for us to do".

"While the full assessment of the strike is ongoing, we are confident of its success", she added.

Asked why she had proceeded without consulting parliament, May cited operational security consideration.

Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable said that "riding the coat-tails of an erratic USA president is no substitute for a mandate from the House of Commons", parliament's elected lower house.

She promised to brief parliament and answer lawmakers' questions on Monday.

The ministry said the facility was "a former missile base... where the regime is assessed to keep chemical weapon precursors".

She said she authorized British forces to join in the strikes after intelligence indicated Syrian president Bashar al-Assad's government was responsible for an attack using chemical weapons in the Damascus suburb of Douma a week ago.

"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". As the Conservative leader explained her rationale for the air strikes, opposition parties claimed the attacks were legally dubious, risked escalating conflict and should have been approved by lawmakers.

The shadow of the 2003 invasion of Iraq still lingers in the corridors of Britain's parliament, when MPs backed then-prime minister Tony Blair in joining U.S. military action.

A YouGov poll in The Times conducted this week found that 43 percent of voters opposed strikes in Syria, with 34 percent unsure and only 22 percent supportive.

British MPs voted against taking military action against Damascus in 2013, in what was widely viewed as an assertion of parliamentary sovereignty on the use of force.

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

Britain continues to support the US-led coalition targeting IS jihadists in Iraq and Syria, and has conducted more than 1,700 strikes.

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

"Further UK military intervention in Syria's appalling multi-sided war risks escalating an already devastating conflict", he said.

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