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12 Sep, 2018 11:53

‘Straight out of the RT propaganda machine’: MP attacked for urging UK military restraint in Syria

‘Straight out of the RT propaganda machine’: MP attacked for urging UK military restraint in Syria

Labour’s Emily Thornberry has come under fire on social media for simply asking the UK government not to rely on “open source intelligence from terrorist groups” in the event of a reported chemical attack in Syria.

Thornberry, Labour’s shadow foreign secretary, asked the government if they would consult Parliament before taking military action over reports of chemical weapon attacks in areas controlled by Al-Qaeda proxy Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), a US-proscribed terrorist organization.

This prompted hysterical responses on social media, with one Twitter user claiming: “This is UK Labour guided by the spirit of Thomas Mair” – the far-right activist who murdered Thornberry’s fellow Labour MP Jo Cox. Another accused Thornberry of providing cover for Syrian President Bashar Assad’s alleged crimes.

There were numerous references to this news organization, with accusations Thornberry was doing the work of “propaganda” outlets such as RT and Sputnik. There was even a charge of “genocide denying” leveled at the MP.

In turn, Thornberry's position drew levels of support from both left-wing and right-wing critics of UK military involvement in Syria. While former Labour MP, George Galloway backed her, warning that the British government may use parliament's recess to "take advantage"  of the situation. 

HTS are thought to have some 10,000 fighters in the last rebel stronghold – Idlib province, a region in Syria’s northwest along the Turkish border.

Upon reports of a potential chemical attack, Thornberry urged the UK to wait “until the chemical weapons inspectors, the OPCW [Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons], have visited those sites under the protection of the Turkish government, independently verified those reports and attributed responsibility for any chemical weapons used.

“Relying on so-called open source intelligence provided by proscribed terrorist groups is not an acceptable alternative,” she said.

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