Author: Lizzie Dearden
Date: 18/04/2017

 

 

 

Boris Johnson has said Britain could join US air strikes against the “monster” Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria, despite a previous vote against intervention.

The Foreign Secretary said the UK had been informed in advance of Donald Trump’s order to bomb the airbase used to launch a suspected chemical attack, but was not involved.

He added: “It is my belief, though I stress no such decision has yet been taken, that were such a request to be made in future, were it to be a reasonable request in pursuit of similar objectives, then I think it would be very difficult for the United Kingdom to say no.”

Boris Johnson has said Britain could join US air strikes against the “monster” Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria, despite a previous vote against intervention.

The Foreign Secretary said the UK had been informed in advance of Donald Trump’s order to bomb the airbase used to launch a suspected chemical attack, but was not involved.

He added: “It is my belief, though I stress no such decision has yet been taken, that were such a request to be made in future, were it to be a reasonable request in pursuit of similar objectives, then I think it would be very difficult for the United Kingdom to say no.”

Parliament later approved a limited British air campaign against Isis and other terrorist groups in Syria and Iraq, but concerns are mounting that operations could become more dangerous following Russia’s suspension of an accord aiming to avoid mid-air conflict.

The Government has shown no sign of putting anti-Assad intervention to MPs for a second time, despite international condemnation of another suspected sarin attack in the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhoun earlier this month.

“We know beyond doubt that two Sukhoi-22 aircraft took off from Shayrat airfield where we know that chemical weapons are stored,” Mr Johnson told MPs on Tuesday.

“We know that they were overhead at 6.39am when according to all eyewitness accounts the attack took place.

“We know from shell fragments in the crater that not only had sarin been used, but sarin carrying the specific chemical signature of sarin used by the Assad regime.”

Both the Syrian and Russian governments have denied that Assad’s government uses or possess banned chemical weapons, but analysis by doctors treating victims has found evidence of nerve agents.

The Foreign Secretary said there was “only one conclusion, that the Assad regime almost certainly gassed its own people in breach of international law and the rules of war”, showing disregard for an agreement to destroy its stockpiles in 2013.

Mr Johnson called on Russia, which acted as a guarantor for that accord on chemical disarmament, to end its “blind support” for Assad and help work towards a political solution to the six-year Syrian civil war.

Supporting Mr Trump’s strikes, he claimed they “create an opportunity to break the deadlock“ and pave the way for a political settlement and a truce, following a succession of failed ceasefires.

Emily Thornberry, Labour’s shadow Foreign Secretary, criticised Mr Johnson for cancelling a scheduled visit to Moscow when diplomacy was most needed, but he insisted he was still in touch with his counterparts.

When questioned whether removing Assad would merely pave the way for an Islamist regime, Mr Johnson said there was “no future” for the Syrian dictator given his war crimes.

“The essential thing will be to have a political process that preserves the institutions of the Syrian state while decapitating the monster,” he added.

Mr Johnson said that both the Syrian and North Korean governments “threaten the law-based international order”, just hours after Damascus listed Kim Jong-un among the world leaders congratulating Assad on independence day.

Supporting Mr Trump’s strikes, he claimed they “create an opportunity to break the deadlock“ and pave the way for a political settlement and a truce, following a succession of failed ceasefires.

Emily Thornberry, Labour’s shadow Foreign Secretary, criticised Mr Johnson for cancelling a scheduled visit to Moscow when diplomacy was most needed, but he insisted he was still in touch with his counterparts.

When questioned whether removing Assad would merely pave the way for an Islamist regime, Mr Johnson said there was “no future” for the Syrian dictator given his war crimes.

“The essential thing will be to have a political process that preserves the institutions of the Syrian state while decapitating the monster,” he added.

Mr Johnson said that both the Syrian and North Korean governments “threaten the law-based international order”, just hours after Damascus listed Kim Jong-un among the world leaders congratulating Assad on independence day.

 

 

 

 

Read more on http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/syria-war-uk-air-strikes-boris-johnson-says-britain-could-join-us-assad-putin-russia-north-korea-a7689736.html