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Opposition leaders urge May to resist Trump’s Syria war

But PM busy playing poodle

LABOUR, SNP and Green Party spokespeople joined anti-war and senior foreign affairs figures yesterday in condemning US missile strikes against a Syrian airbase.

The unilateral bombing was supposedly in retaliation for a suspected gas attack in Khan Sheikhoun on Tuesday which killed 52 adults and 20 children.

The US claims the Syrian government carried out the attack, a charge it denies.

Thousands of people were due to gather in London last night for an emergency demonstration called by the Stop the War Coalition (StWC) in protest against Theresa May’s support for the Tomahawk raid.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn warned against an escalation of the war in Syria, calling on the government to “urge restraint on the Trump administration” and to throw its weight behind a negotiated settlement.

“Tuesday’s horrific chemical attack was a war crime which requires urgent independent UN investigation and those responsible must be held to account,” he said.

“But unilateral military action without legal authorisation or independent verification risks intensifying a multisided conflict that has already killed hundreds of thousands.”

Mr Corbyn called for Geneva peace talks to resume as a matter of urgency and urged international pressure for a negotiated settlement.

An StWC spokesperson warned: “As well as ?deepening? the tragedy of the Syrian people, this utterly? irresponsible act threatens to widen the war and lead the West into military confrontation with Russia.”

But a Downing Street spokeswoman said: “The UK government fully supports the US action, which we believe was an appropriate response to the barbaric chemical weapons attack launched by the Syrian regime, and is intended to deter further attacks.”

Defence Secretary Michael Fallon confirmed the government had been in “close contact” with Mr Trump prior to the strike.

Many Labour MPs broke ranks to beat the war drum, with deputy leader Tom Watson smarming that the air strike was a “proportionate” retaliation for the alleged war crime, despite having no foreign policy brief.

Barnsley East MP Michael Dugher took the opportunity to take a childish swipe at Mr Corbyn, tweeting that his statement had been run by “the Kremlin, Stop the War and the Morning Star.”

Opposition parties joined Mr Corbyn in criticising Tory appeasement of Mr Trump however. Green Party co-leader Caroline Lucas said: “We need to send a strong signal to Assad that his actions are intolerable whilst at the same time avoid any escalation of violence that puts more civilian lives at risk.

“It is deeply concerning that President Trump took this action without the permission of Congress and it is now of the upmost importance that Theresa May calls on him to help build some kind of international consensus around what happens next.”

And SNP foreign affairs spokesman Alex Salmond MP said: “The overnight cruise missile strikes by the US against a Syrian regime air base are no substitute for a policy towards ending the conflict.”

Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron provided pipsqueak political cover for the Tories as he called for British military action in Syria.

The tub-thumping MP said: “The British government, rather than just putting out a bland statement welcoming this, should now follow it up and call an emergency meeting of Nato to see what else can be done, be that more surgical strikes or no-fly zones.

“Evil happens when good people do nothing. We cannot sit by while a dictator gasses his own people. We cannot stand by, we must act.”

Mr Trump claimed the bombing was in the “vital national security interest” to “prevent and deter the spread and use of deadly chemical weapons.”

He said: “There can be no dispute that Syria used banned chemical weapons.”

However former British ambassador to Syria Peter Ford urged caution, saying there needed to be an investigation.

He told BBC Breakfast that Mr Trump’s blaming of the Assad regime for the attack was “a misstatement of non-facts.”

Mr Ford warned that the intelligence leading up to the Iraq war “was all wrong and it is possible that it is wrong in this instance as well and that they are just looking for a pretext to attack Syria.”

Asked why he disagreed with Mr Fallon, he blasted: “I don’t leave my brains at the door when I examine a situation analytically ... we cannot take what the so-called intelligence services say at face value, especially when they have an agenda.”


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