Syria: UK rules out military action after chemical attack | World news


Downing Street has downplayed any plans for military action in the aftermath of the deadly toxic gas attack in northern Syria, which the foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, said bore the hallmarks of an attack by the Bashar al-Assad regime.

Asked about any prospect of military reprisals, Downing Street officials travelling with the prime minister in the Middle East said “nobody is talking about that”, but said they were hopeful of support from all members of the UN security council at an emergency meeting called by the UK and France on Wednesday afternoon to condemn the Idlib attack.

Russia is likely to veto any resolution against the Assad regime.

Theresa May called it an “appalling” attack. It killed at least 70 people and led many more to be transferred to Turkey in a critical condition.

The prime minister, currently in Saudi Arabia, said the UK would call for the Organisation for the Prohibition of the Chemical Weapons to investigate. “I’m very clear there can be no future for Assad in a stable Syria, which is representative of all the Syrian people and I call on all the third parties involved to ensure that we have a transition away from Assad,” she said. “We cannot allow this suffering to continue.”

Though the attack drew immediate comparisons with the 2013 Sarin gas attack, which prompted a Commons vote on military action against Assad, No 10 sources said no hasty decisions would be taken until the discussion at the UN security council.

The government was defeated in 2013 after Labour and Tory rebels voted down any UK military action.

The Syrian military has categorically denied responsibility for the latest attack. Russia, which is providing military support to the regime, denied its…

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