No Alternative to Syria Air Strikes, Says Theresa May
UK Prime Minister Theresa May defended her decision to launch a coordinated airstrike in Syria this week, stating that there was no “alternative path” in stopping the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime. May said that it was “moral and legal” to take military action to “alleviate further humanitarian suffering.”
The airstrike took place on Friday evening with UK, U.S., and French forces working together to conduct “targeted” strikes on a Syrian military research facility. The strikes were intended to cripple the regime’s chemical weapons capability.
Speaking to the press on Saturday, May stated: “While the full assessment of the strike is ongoing, we are confident of its success.”
The decision to act came after reports of a chemical weapons attack on April 7th in Douma, a city about 10 km northeast of Damascus. The attack is said to have killed up to 75 people and injured many more.
“We have seen the harrowing images of men, women, and children lying dead with foam in their mouths,” May said in her statement. “ [...] And the World Health Organisation has received reports that hundreds of patients arrived at Syrian health facilities on Saturday night with ‘signs and symptoms consistent with exposure to toxic chemicals.'
“We are also clear about who was responsible for this atrocity," May continued. "A significant body of information, including intelligence, indicates the Syrian regime is responsible for this latest attack.”
May faces criticism over her decision to strike without a full UN investigation into the attack on Douma. In an open letter to the Prime Minister, Leader of the Opposition Jeremy Corbyn called the strike “legally questionable.”
Corbyn also used the opportunity to press May on her immigration policy surrounding Syrian refugees, stating: “The [Syrian] refugee crisis places a responsibility on all countries and I hope the government will now increase its commitment to take additional refugees.”
The Prime Minister will face further questioning about her decision to go ahead without consulting UK MPs before launching the missile into Syria.
On Saturday, Downing Street published a summary of the legal advice it was given about the strike, detailing the circumstances that pushed the UK to intervene in Syria.
In her speech to the press, May went on to speak more broadly about the use of chemical weapons by governments around the world, calling on the international community to come together in eliminating this threat. The Prime Minister referenced the nerve-agent attack on a former spy that took place in the UK a few weeks ago. The British government believes Moscow to be behind the attack.
Towards the end of her speech, May stated: “We cannot allow the use of chemical weapons to become normalized - either within Syria, on the streets of the UK or elsewhere."