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'Lawless', 'legally questionable': Syria airstrikes by US, UK and France criticised

The Irish government has yet to make a statement on the three allies’ airstrikes.

A protest by Stop the War Coalition in Whitehall, outside 10 Downing Street in London yesterday.
A protest by Stop the War Coalition in Whitehall, outside 10 Downing Street in London yesterday.
Image: Yui Mok

Updated at 7pm

RUSSIA’S FOREIGN MINISTRY has said that airstrikes from the US, UK and France was an attempt to derail an investigation into who was behind the purported chemical attack.

The Foreign Ministry says facts presented by Russian investigators indicated that the attack was a “premeditated and cynical sham”.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told a press conference today that the recent airstrikes were “unacceptable and lawless”, while British Prime Minister Theresa May defended the actions as “right and legal”.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the air strikes against the Syrian regime were “necessary and appropriate”.

We support the fact that our US, British and French allies … assumed their responsibilities. The military intervention was necessary and appropriate.

“Everything leads us to believe that (Assad) bears responsibility” for the Douma attack, Merkel said.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also expressed his support for the strikes.

“A year ago I gave Israel’s total support for (US) President Donald Trump’s decision to mobilise against the use of chemical weapons,” he said, referring to American strikes against the Syrian regime in April 2017 after a sarin gas attack on a rebel-held town.

“Israel’s support remains unchanged,” Netanyahu said.

Images emerged earlier this week of men, women and children in the rebel-held town of Douma foaming from the mouth, and hospitals reported a dramatic increase of people presenting with respiratory problems and skin irritation.

Governments and experts have concluded that this is consistent with exposure to toxic chemicals.

Last night, airstrikes were launched by the US, UK and France on three locations within Syria, targeting  a chemical weapons storage facility, a military bunker involved in chemical weapons attacks, and a scientific research centre in Damascus. No one was injured in the attack.

Missile Source: Sky News

Russia has asked the UN Security Council to condemn the “aggression” against Syria from the military strikes, according to a draft resolution seen by AFP.

Russia circulated the measure ahead of a Security Council meeting to discuss the military operation by the three allies in response to an alleged chemical weapons attack.

UN Security Council

UN council Source: Sky News

At the UN security council meeting this afternoon, US Ambassador Nikki Haley said that she had spoken to President Donald Trump earlier about the military action taken.

“I spoke to the president this morning and he said: If the Syrian regime uses this poisonous gas again, the United States is locked and loaded,” Haley said in a strong statement.

“When our president draws a red line, our president enforces the red line.

Haley said the United States was confident that the military strikes had crippled Syria’s chemical weapons programme.

We are prepared to sustain this pressure, if the Syrian regime is foolish enough to test our will.

Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia had called for a vote during the meeting on the measure that condemns the “aggression” against Syria and demands that the allies refrain from any further military strikes.

Legality

In a recent press conference, British Prime Minister Theresa May said that the allies’ actions were “right and legal”.

May said that the Syrian government had a history of using chemical weapons against its own people, and the actions came as “no surprise”.

But May is facing a backlash from MPs for not consulting with parliament first.

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.

“Bombs won’t save lives or bring about peace,” said Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the Labour Party.

This legally questionable action risks escalating further… an already devastating conflict.
Theresa May should have sought parliamentary approval, not trailed after Donald Trump.

In a tweet this afternoon, Trump said that the operation “could not have had a better result” and that it was “mission accomplished”.

The defence spokesperson for the Scottish National Party told Sky News that it was a bad day for parliament, a bad day for the people of Syria, and “had the potential to make [the situation] all the worse”.

The shadow of the 2003 invasion of Iraq still lingers in the corridors of Britain’s parliament, when MPs backed then-prime minister Tony Blair in joining US military action.

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald said that the airstrikes represented “an escalation of tensions in the area” and said that there had to be a “political solution to the conflict in Syria”.

It will be the people of Syria who will suffer with the continuation of this conflict. This intervention is wrong.

The Irish government has yet to make a statement on the airstrikes.

- with reporting  from Gráinne Ní Aodha.

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