Allies keep Syria options open as United Kingdom says no strikes planned

Amber Rudd

In a post made on Twitter, Johnson said: "Welcome the news of United Kingdom military strikes against major chemical weapons facilities in Syria alongside our U.S. and French allies".

The rush to swift action following an alleged chemical weapons attack on the rebel-held town of Douma on April 9 was condemned by several British opposition parties who wanted parliament recalled. He warned that intervention would lead to a proxy war with Russian Federation which would be "not only risky to Britain, but the entire world". And it was not about regime change.

DUP leader Arlene Foster said she had spoken to May and the airstrikes were "limited but proportionate and justified".

"We can not tolerate the normalisation of the use of chemical weapons", he said in a statement.

"This is the first time as prime minister that I have had to take the decision to commit our armed forces in combat - and it is not a decision I have taken lightly".

May, whose leadership has been questioned after scandals, divisions over Brexit and an ill-judged election that lost her party its majority in parliament, has found support from other worldwide leaders for backing action against Syria.

The MoD said four Tornado jets had carried out the attack using Storm Shadow missiles on a military facility some fifteen miles west of Homs, some distance from known concentrations of civilian habitation.

"Very careful scientific analysis was applied to determine where best to target the Storm Shadows to maximise the destruction of the stockpiled chemicals and to minimise any risks of contamination to the surrounding area", the ministry said.

"We don't expect that we'll be a position where we're having to make further strikes", he told LBC radio.

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Professor Iain Begg, Research Fellow at the European Institute and Co-Director of the Dahrendorf Forum at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), told Xinhua: "A volley of bombs may help the USA and its allies feel they have reacted in a timely and proportionate manner to the undoubted horror of the use by the Syrian regime of chemical weapons, but the inevitable worry will be that they have not thought through what happens next".

After hearing legal, security and defence advice, she concluded it was "right and legal" to take military action.

Parliament is not due to reconvene until Monday, following its Easter recess. "Britain should be playing a leadership role to bring about a ceasefire in the conflict, not taking instructions from Washington and putting British military personnel in harm's way".

But they backed action in Iraq the following year, and again in Syria in 2015, strictly limiting strikes to targets of the Islamic State group.

"Bombs won't save lives or bring about peace", he said.

As the Conservative leader explained her rationale for the airstrikes, opposition parties claimed the attacks were legally dubious, risked escalating conflict and should have been approved by lawmakers.

"This action risks not just further escalating the civil war in Syria but also a risky escalation of global tensions", said the leader of the left-wing Scottish National Party, the third-biggest force in the British parliament.

Vince Cable, leader of the Liberal Democrats, said: "Riding the coattails of an erratic U.S. president is no substitute for a mandate from the House of Commons".

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