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16 Apr, 2018 15:20

UK PM Theresa May claims Syria strikes 'not because Trump told us to'

UK PM Theresa May claims Syria strikes 'not because Trump told us to'

Theresa May told parliament the airstrikes against Syria by Britain and its allies were “morally and legally right," but was mocked over whether she or President Trump made the decision for the UK military to launch strikes.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn responded by calling the strikes in Syria "legally questionable." He accused May of not exhausting all diplomatic avenues, and said other groups, not just Assad, have used chemical weapons during the Syria conflict.

The operation followed allegations of a chemical weapons attack in the Syrian town of Douma.  

May told parliament that the UK was unable to act through the UN Security Council (UNSC) saying Russia would use its power at the UN to "veto our foreign policy".

May insisted: “We have acted because it is in our national interest to prevent the further use of chemical weapons in Syria and uphold the global consensus that they should not be used… wither in Syria or on the streets of the UK.

We have done this because we believe it is the right thing to do, and we are not alone.”

After accusations that Britain was simply following the lead of the US in the strikes against Assad, May said: “We have not done this because President Trump asked us to do so."

READ MORE: ‘The PM is accountable to this parliament, not to the whims of the US president’ – Corbyn  

Opposition leader Corbyn took the chance to remind the Prime Minister that British foreign policy should not be dictated by "the whims of the American president."

The US, France and Britain launched strikes a day before chemical weapons inspectors had even arrived in Syria.  May attempted to defend the decision to strike before the OPCW had even arrived by saying: "UNSC-Mandated inspectors have investigated previous attacks and on four occasions decided that the Regime was indeed responsible.

"We are confident in our own assessment that the Syrian Regime was highly likely responsible for this attack and that its persistent pattern of behavior meant that it was highly likely to continue using chemical weapons."

The Prime Minister refused to commit the government to consulting parliament in any future air strikes against Syria, saying she is willing to order more.  Monday's debate on an attack which risked severely escalating tensions was held two days AFTER the operation actually took place.

The allied strike against Syria comes as a response to an alleged chlorine gas bombing in the Eastern Ghoutan town of Douma, which killed up to 75 people, including women and children children, and resulting in up to 500 casualties.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government has denied responsibility.

Saturday’s air raid was carried out at 2am GMT by US, UK, and French forces. The attack has been described as a “violation of international law” by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government, who have also denied responsibility for the April 7 chemical attack.

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