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23rd of April 2018

International



Boris Johnson defends U.K. role in Syria strikes

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson defended the U.K. government’s decision to join America and France in attacking Syria to punish Syrian President Bashar Assad for the suspected use of chemical weapons — amid a growing debate in London that Parliament was not consulted first.

Coordinated American, French and British airstrikes were launched late Friday in retaliation for a chemical weapons attack on a rebel-held suburb of Damascus earlier this month. Afterward, Pentagon officials claimed the strikes set Syria’s chemical weapons capability back “for years.”

In the U.K., the first poll conducted since the successful allied bombing showed that the British public believe Prime Minister Theresa May’s decision to join the operation was wrong by a majority of almost two to one.

Reports are also documenting the British public’s fear over Russia launching a cyber backlash in retaliation, possibly targeting critical infrastructure, including air traffic control, hospitals or the water supply.

Opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn blasted the government, condemning Friday’s airstrikes as “legally debatable” and arguing that if Britain wants to claim the moral high ground it must abide by international law. Mr. Corbyn also demanded Parliament pass legislation to give the body more scrutiny over military action.

On Sunday, Mr. Johnson came out hard on the defensive, telling the BBC that the airstrikes were proportionate and showed “the world has said enough is enough.” He also issued a warning to Damascus not to use chemical weapons again.

“So far, thank heavens, the Assad regime has not been so foolish to launch another chemical weapons attack,” Mr. Johnson said, adding that Britain and its allies “would study what the options were” in the event of another attack.

The foreign secretary also published an editorial in The Sunday Telegraph addressing the reasoning behind the airstrikes and elaborating on some on the intelligence the U.S., French and British government assessed in making its decision to bomb.

Mr. Johnson wrote that while the joint airstrike may not end the Assad regime’s “sick barbarism” it does show that “we stand up for principle and civilized values.”

As for Mr. Corbyn argument that the attacks were legally questionable, Mr. Johnson said Ms. May would address the criticism at Parliament when it reconvenes on Monday.

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