UK, France and US move closer to military action in Syria

The British Cabinet agreed yesterday to take action to prevent the further use of chemical weapons in Syria and will co-ordinate a response with the US and France.

Following an emergency meeting, that lasted more than two hours, Prime Minister Theresa May’s ministers agreed that it was “highly likely” the Syrian regime was responsible for a suspected chemical attack in Douma and that there is a “need to take action” to “deter the further use of chemical weapons”.

May described the chemical attack as “shocking and barbaric” and 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”.

May spoke to US President Donald Trump on Thursday evening, who is deliberating with his own advisers as to the appropriate response. According to a statement, they agreed that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad had “established a pattern of dangerous behaviour in relation to the use of chemical weapons” and “agreed to keep working closely together on the international response”.

Trump told reporters yesterday that he was meeting with his advisors later in the day and a decision on action in Syria will be made “fairly soon”. According to sources with knowledge of internal White House discussion, no decision was made at last night’s meeting due to differences between Trump and newly-appointed National Security Adviser John Bolton on one side and US military chiefs on the other.

Russia has called for a meeting of the UN Security Council today to discuss the possibility of US-led military action in Syria. Moscow’s UN Ambassador, Vassily Nebenzia, claimed the “immediate priority is to avert the danger of war” following a closed-door meeting of the UN Security Council on Thursday.

French President Emmanuel Macron said he had “proof” that the Syrian government had attacked Douma, the last major rebel stronghold near Damascus, with chemical weapons on Saturday.