Sign in / Join

May defends the attack in Syria as a “clear message” against chemical weapons

Ⓒ AFP – Simon Dawson – | The British Prime Minister, Theresa May, talks about the military intervention in Syria on April 14, 2018 in London

The British Prime Minister, Theresa May, defended the allied military operation against the Syrian regime of Bashar Al Asad on Saturday as a “clear message” against the use of chemical weapons, a few weeks after they were used on English soil.

In an appearance before the press in Downing Street, May also said that the retaliation for the alleged chemical attack in Duma was “correct and legal,” according to his government concluded after consulting his legal advisors.

“It is not about intervening in a civil war, or a change of regime,” May said, insisting that the main objective of the operation is for Al Asad not to reuse chemical weapons, as he is accused of having done in several times, the last recently in the town of Duma.

“My message to the people is that this is about the use of chemical weapons, for about 100 years we have had a generally accepted position in the international community that chemical weapons are illegal,” May said.

In this context, May mentioned the attack with a chemical weapon on English soil against the Russian ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter, whom London attributes to Russia, the only great ally of the Al Assad regime.

“This position” of the international community against chemical weapons “has been undermined lately” and “it is in the interest of the whole world to restore that international norm”.

“This action is absolutely in the national interest,” insisted May, who will appear in Parliament on Monday to explain British participation after being criticized by the rest of British political leaders for not having consulted the chamber.

– Criticisms for not asking for Parliament’s approval –

Ⓒ AFP – William ICKES – | Record of the British fighter plane Tornado GR4 used in Syria

“Theresa May should have sought parliamentary approval, instead of following Donald Trump,” criticized Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn.

British warplanes that participated in the operation fired missiles at a Syrian military compound near Homs suspected of harboring substances to make chemical weapons, the British defense ministry reported Saturday.

Four Tornado aircraft fired Storm Shadow missiles at “a military compound, a former missile base, some 24 kilometers west of Homs, where the regime is suspected of having substances to make chemical weapons,” the ministry said in a statement.

The British air strikes were “very successful”, according to the first indications, Defense Minister Gavin Williamson said.

May’s predecessor, David Cameron, did not achieve in August 2013 the support of the House of Commons for a military response to the first use of chemical weapons by Al Asad against the civilian population.

The disastrous invasion of Iraq in 2003 and its subsequent occupation – which did have parliamentary support – resulted in the deaths of 179 British soldiers and tainted the legacy of the then prime minister, Labor Tony Blair.

A poll by The Times newspaper published on Thursday revealed that only 22% of Britons approve a military operation against Al Asad.

May has only a limited absolute majority in the House of Commons thanks to a pact with the Northern Irish Unionists, and the leader of the opposition, Labor Jeremy Corbyn, has demanded, as some conservative deputies have done, that any step count with the support of Parliament.

In the process of leaving the European Union, the prime minister is also confronted with the need to please the White House, which has not hesitated to blame the attack on Damascus but also on Moscow.

Terms of service