UK preparing to strike Syria as Theresa May summons war cabinet

Written by Kevin Schofield and Tom Freeman on 12 April 2018 in News

Opposition outcry after reports Theresa May is to launch air strikes against Syria without consulting parliament

Cabinet meeting - Stefan Rousseau/PA 

Theresa May has called an emergency Cabinet meeting as the Government prepares to join US-led military action against Bashar al-Assad's regime following an apparent chemical attack on civilians in Syria.

The Prime Minister is gathering her most senior ministers in Number 10 to update them on the latest developments in the crisis, despite the fact that Parliament is still in recess.

The move comes after Donald Trump used social media site twitter to warn Russia - which is backing the Syrian government - to "get ready", and that "nice, smart" US missiles "will be coming" in the wake of the incident, which left dozens dead in the city of Douma in Eastern Ghouta.

May said "all the indications" are that Bashar al-Assad's regime was behind the attack.

The Syrian government has denied any involvement, while last night Russia vetoed a UN Security Council resolution authorising an independent investigation into what happened.

Speaking on Wednesday, May said the UK, America and France were "rapidly reaching the understanding" that the Assad regime was responsible for the atrocity.

"We are working with our allies, we have been working to get an understanding of what happened on the ground," she said.

"We are rapidly reaching that understanding. All the indications are that the Syrian regime was responsible and we will be working with our closest allies on how we can ensure that those who are responsible are held to account and how we can prevent and deter the humanitarian catastrophe that comes from the use of chemical weapons in the future.

"The continued use of chemical weapons cannot go unchallenged."

A Downing Street source insisted that the Cabinet meeting was needed after a "fast-moving week" of developments following Saturday's attack.

However, they refused to be drawn on BBC reports that May was preparing to authorise RAF involvement in any strikes on Syrian targets without first seeking the backing of MPs.

Both Jeremy Corbyn and the SNP have insisted the Prime Minister must not use the Royal Prerogative to give the green light to military action without parliamentary approval.

The Labour leader said he wanted to see a political solution to the crisis rather than a military one.

He said: "What we don’t want is bombardment which leads to escalation and leads to a hot war between Russia and America over the skies of Syria.

"So what I’m saying is listen to what the UN says, listen to what the UN general secretary says, undertake the inquiry into the source and usage of the chemical weapons.

"But, above all, get every country including the US and Russia, as well as the neighbouring states, around the table in Geneva to being about a political solution."

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