UK to 'take action' on Syria after Cabinet agrees Assad 'highly likely' to be behind chemical attack
A previous meeting of the Cabinet at Chequers - Image credit: Stefan Rousseau/PA Archive/PA Images
Theresa May's top ministers have vowed to “take action” against the Assad regime in Syria after agreeing it is "highly likely" he was behind the chemical attack which killed dozens of his own civilians.
A two-and-a-quarter hour emergency Cabinet meeting agreed that "it was vital that the use of chemical weapons did not go unchallenged", Downing Street said.
Britain will now work with America and France "to coordinate an international response", Number 10 said.
However, there was no indication that RAF fighters are preparing to launch imminent strikes on the Assad regime, or that MPs will be given a say before any military action takes place.
Up to 75 people, including many children, were killed following the attack on the rebel-held city of Douma in Eastern Ghouta last weekend.
Donald Trump yesterday warned Russia - which backs Assad - that US missiles "will be coming", but has since softened his stance.
In a statement following the Cabinet meeting, Number 10 said: "Cabinet agreed that the Assad regime has a track record of the use of chemical weapons and it is highly likely that the regime is responsible for Saturday's attack.
"The Prime Minister said it was a further example of the erosion of international law in relation to the use of chemical weapons, which was deeply concerning to us all.
"Following a discussion in which every member present made a contribution, Cabinet agreed it was vital that the use of chemical weapons did not go unchallenged.
“Cabinet agreed on the need to take action to alleviate humanitarian distress and to deter the further use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime.
"Cabinet agreed the Prime Minister should continue to work with allies in the United States and France to coordinate an international response."
Jeremy Corbyn has led calls for Parliament to be given a vote on whether military action should take place.
The Labour leader said: "Parliament must be consulted on this. Surely the lessons of Iraq, the lessons that came there from the Chilcott report, have got to be – there has to be – a proper process of consultation.
"We elect parliament, we elect members of parliament, they should have a voice on this. The Cabinet alone should not be making this decision."
SNP leader Ian Blackford has also written to Theresa May demanding that MPs are recalled from their Easter break this weekend in order to debate the crisis.