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UK Parliament to debate Syria airstrikes

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UK Prime Minister Theresa May will today explain to Members of Parliament today why she authorised UK air strikes against the Syrian regime.

May will make a statement to the House of Commons on the British, French and US operation that involved more than 100 missiles fired at Syria, after deciding against recalling parliament last week to get support before action was taken.

The Ministry of Defence has confirmed that eight Storm Shadow missiles were launched by four RAF Tornados at a former missile base, five miles west of the Syrian city of Homs, which was suspected of being used to stockpile materials for making chemical weapons.

The Government has asked the Speaker of the House of Commons to grant an emergency debate after May’s statement, to allow more time for MPs to speak.

The Prime Minister is expected to say that the UN Security Council (UNSC)-mandated inspectors have investigated previous attacks and on four occasions decided that the regime was responsible, that she is confident that the Syrian regime was highly likely responsible for this attack and that its consistent pattern of behaviour meant that it was highly likely to continue using chemical weapons.

Opposition parties say MPs should have been consulted before the UK joined the US and France in bombing three Syrian sites. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn described the attack as both “wrong and misconceived” and is expected to call for a new “War Powers Act” that would require future prime ministers to get MPs’ approval before taking almost any military action.

Downing Street published its legal case for its part in the strikes at the weekend, stating that the action was legally justified on humanitarian grounds. UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson defended the strikes in his appearance on the Marr show on Sunday morning, stressing that the intervention “is not going to turn the tide of the conflict”, but was about stopping the erosion of the “taboo” of chemical weapons. “There is no proposal on the table for further attacks because so far, thank heavens, the Assad regime has not been so foolish as to launch another chemical weapons attack. If and when such a thing were to happen, then clearly with allies we would study what the options were”, the Foreign Secretary added.

Inspectors from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) are expected to visit Douma and investigate the site of the suspected chemical attack in the coming days.