Syria airstrikes by UK, France, US 'successful': British PM May
(Sourced from PTI)
Air strikes by Britain, France, and the United States in Syria sent a "clear message" against the use of chemical weapons, British PM Theresa May said today, declaring the action "successful". At a Downing Street press conference, she said the coordinated strikes to degrade the Bashar al-Assad-led Syrian regime's chemical weapons capability involved four Royal Air Force (RAF) Tornado GR 4s. Here's more.
"This collective action sends a clear message that the international community will not stand by and tolerate the use of chemical weapons," Theresa May said. The RAF tornadoes launched storm shadow missiles at a military facility some 24 km west of Homs, where the Assad regime was assessed to have kept chemical weapons in breach of Syria's obligations under the Chemical Weapons Convention.
"While the full assessment of the strike is ongoing, we are confident of its success; it was a limited, targeted and effective strike with clear boundaries that expressly sought to avoid escalation and did everything possible to prevent civilian casualties," the British Prime Minister said.
Acknowledging that there's no "graver decision" for a Prime Minister than to commit the country's forces to combat, May said following discussions with US President Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron, the trio agreed to hit a specific and limited set of targets. These included a chemical-weapons' storage and production facility, a key chemical-weapons research center, and a military bunker involved in chemical-weapon attacks.
Making a reference to Russia, which has been supporting the Syrian regime, May indicated the strikes were also intended as a message to Moscow over its own use of a deadly nerve agent against former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia last month.
"We cannot allow the use of chemical weapons to become normalized either within Syria, on the streets of the UK, or elsewhere. We must reinstate the global consensus that chemical weapons cannot be used," May said. In a statement, Russian President Vladimir Putin described the air strikes as an "act of aggression" by the three western allies, which would worsen the Syrian humanitarian crisis.
The UK's Opposition Labour party branded the strikes as "legally questionable", conducted without the backing or vote in the UK Parliament. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn condemned the government's involvement in the US-led strikes. May said that due to "operational security reasons" it had been "right and legal" to take the action in the way that the US, France, and Britain had.
The airstrikes follow reports last Saturday of up to 75 people, including young children, being killed in the Syrian city of Douma. Theresa May stressed that after assessments, alongside the US and France, all the indications were that it had been a chemical weapons attack which led to some harrowing images of men, women, and children lying dead with foam in their mouths.
May received her Cabinet's backing for military action during an emergency meeting on Thursday. The UK asserts the action isn't about interfering in a civil war or regime change. British Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson described the airstrikes as a "highly successful mission", adding the UK, France, and America played an important role in "degrading the ability of the Syrian regime to use chemical weapons".