On Saturday morning, British, American and French forces conducted co-ordinated and targeted strikes to destroy the Syrian regime's chemical weapons capability. This was in response to a Government-ordered barrel bomb attack in the city of Douma, which killed 75 people and left over 500 casualties requiring urgent medical treatment.
All the indications are that this was a chemical weapons attack. First-hand accounts from aid workers have detailed the most horrific suffering, including burns to the eyes, suffocation and skin discolouration, with a chlorine-like odour surrounding the many victims, including men, women and children.
This method of attack by the Syrian Government, on the Syrian people, breached established international law, as set out by the Chemical Weapons Convention.
On the basis of evidence, it was agreed, with the US and French President, that a limited and defined attack was required; an intervention that would not prompt further involvement in Syria’s civil war, nor seek regime change. That is why, on Saturday morning, a co-ordinated assault was launched across several chemical weapon sites in Syria.
I believe that this proportionate action was the right thing to do. I also believe that a Parliamentary vote on this very important subject would not have helped matters. Indeed, there was no vote on the First or Second World Wars, nor on the Falklands, nor Gulf 1. The Prime Minister rightly kept Parliament and the public informed of unfolding events. I do not believe that politicising warfare by asking backbench MPs to vote on it, results in the correct decision being taken. MPs do not have access to intelligence, military assessments, nor the legal advice which is available to the Prime Minister and Cabinet. These are matters for the generals and intelligence chiefs advising the Prime Minister and Cabinet on the best course of action.
It is important to stress that strikes initiated, by UK, US and French forces, were all targeted and proportionate, and avoided areas of civilian habitation. They degraded chemical weapons facilities on the outskirts of the Syrian city of Homs, a research centre, in eastern Damascus, and, importantly, sent a message to President Assad that his use of chemical weapons will not be tolerated.
I also hope that the strike gave assurance to the Syrian people that the world has not forgotten them, and that the UK and its international partners are resolved to bringing Syrian, Russian and opposition representatives to the negotiating table, so that a political solution can be found to end this conflict.
You can read the Governments legal justification for Saturday’s attack at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/syria-action-uk-government-legal-position/syria-action-uk-government-legal-position
I hope this explains the rationale, and grounds of legality, for taking such action, and thank you, again, for taking the time to write to me about this very important issue.