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9 Apr, 2018 20:03

Syria ‘chemical attack’: Top Tory criticizes Corbyn’s Labour for wanting evidence

Syria ‘chemical attack’: Top Tory criticizes Corbyn’s Labour for wanting evidence

A Tory minister has condemned Labour’s official response to an alleged chemical weapons attack in Syria for not mentioning Russia or Iran, despite the fact the government’s own statement on the matter didn’t mention them either.

Labour was criticized by a top Conservative official for its response to Saturday night’s alleged chemical weapons attack in the rebel-held Syrian town of Douma.

Tory Minister Sajid Javid tweeted: "This @UKLabour press release could have been written by the Kremlin. No mention at all of Russian and Iranian complicity. Wonder why? How did a once great political party come to this?"

Javid was responding to a Labour Press statement from a spokesperson for the shadow foreign secretary, released in response to the deadly attack on the besieged town near Damascus.

The Labour spokesperson said: "The horrifying images and reports that have emerged from Douma point to an attack using chemical weapons, in blatant contravention of international humanitarian law, with young children among the many victims.”

The statement goes on to say that in line with the Foreign Office’s response, “it is vital and urgent that there is a full and independent investigation of this reported attack, and that anyone found responsible for using chemical weapons is brought to justice.”

The spokesperson does not apportion blame to a specific state actor or group but instead concludes by stating: “The Syrian people have suffered too long from atrocities and brutality of this war, whether committed by the Assad regime, by Jihadists militias, or by their respective international supporters, and it is time for that suffering to stop."

It appears that Javid has taken issue with Labour’s unwillingness to explicitly pin blame on Russia and Iran, as complicit allies of the Syrian government, before an investigation by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).

One of the issues with Javid’s criticism of the Labour Party’s press release though, is that No. 10’s response to Saturday night’s atrocity also fails to explicitly name Russia or Iran: “The reports of a chemical weapons attack are deeply disturbing. It’s vital that they must be urgently investigated and the international community must respond.

We are swiftly working with our allies to agree a common position. As you know, we are one of the countries that has called for an emergency security council meeting, that will take place later today.”

This latest attack on Corbyn’s party by Tory officials fits with their ongoing narrative that Labour is being led by a Russian stooge, a mouthpiece for the Kremlin and someone that certainly cannot be trusted on foreign affairs.

Corbyn’s reluctance to name other states as “the enemy” is enraging the current UK government, as well as parts of his own party. The likelihood of his approach to foreign affairs encouraging diplomatic breakthroughs during a time of instability is not countenanced by Theresa May’s government.

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