LONDON (Reuters) - U.S., British and French forces launched air strikes on Syria in response to a suspected poison gas attack that killed dozens of people, aiming to degrade its chemical weapons capabilities in the biggest intervention yet in the conflict by Western powers.
By launching strikes without prior approval from parliament, Prime Minister Theresa May dispensed with a non-binding constitutional convention dating back to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, but said speed was essential and that military action was in the national interest.
For May’s full statement:
Here is reaction in Britain to the missile strikes:
British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson:
“Welcome the news of UK military strikes against major chemical weapons facilities in Syria alongside our US and French allies. The world is united in its disgust for any use of chemical weapons, but especially against civilians.”
Nicola Sturgeon, the head of Scotland’s devolved government and leader of the Scottish National Party:
“Air strikes have not resolved situation in Syria so far - nothing I’ve heard persuades me they will do so now. An international strategy for peace must be pursued - not a course that risks dangerous escalation. UK foreign policy should be set by Parliament, not US President.”
David Miliband, the chief executive of the International Rescue Committee and former Labour foreign minister:
“Now that the US, France and the UK have decided on their reaction to the use of chemical weapons last weekend, the need for a diplomatic offensive is more imperative than ever. Military action is only ever successful when it is part of a political strategy, for peace-making, humanitarian aid and regional security.
“Bombing cannot substitute for diplomacy, military reactions a substitute for a peace plan. Syrian civilians need urgent humanitarian aid to relieve poverty, Syria’s neighbors need support for the refugees they are housing.”
Stewart McDonald, a member of parliament for the Scottish National Party:
“What does this new bombing campaign do to help move Syria towards peace? Nothing. Instead, it has the potential to dangerously complicate the war, making matters on the ground worse for the people that the strikes are supposed to help. There is no peace strategy.
“The government has made no effort to explain to the public what it is that UK forces are really engaging in, beyond a statement of seven short sentences and this 4 minute video. No debate in Parliament about the action or its potential consequences. No accountability.”
Reporting By Andrew MacAskill; editing by Guy Faulconbridge