LONDON: British Prime Minister Theresa May authorised precision air-launched cruise missile strikes against Syria on Saturday (April 14) to degrade its chemical weapons capability, saying there was no alternative to military action.
The air strikes by Britain, France and the United States sent a “clear message” against the use of chemical weapons, Mrs May said on Saturday.
“This collective action sends a clear message that the international community will not stand by and tolerate the use of chemical weapons,” Mrs May said at a press conference, calling the military action “right and legal”.
Four Royal Air Force Tornado jets from the Akrotiri base in Cyprus fired Storm Shadow missiles at a military facility near Homs where it was assessed that Syria had stockpiled chemicals, Britain’s Ministry of Defence said.
Britain joined the United States and France in what Mrs May cast as a “limited and targeted” strike after intelligence indicated Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government was responsible for an attack using chemical weapons in Douma.
Mrs May said the missile strike, designed to minimise civilian casualties, was not an attempt to topple the Syrian government.
“This is not about intervening in a civil war. It is not about regime change,” Mrs May said in statement made from her country residence at Chequers just minutes after US President Donald Trump announced the strikes from the White House.
By launching strikes without prior approval from Parliament, Mrs May dispensed with a non-binding constitutional convention dating back to the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
She said speed was essential and that military action was in the national interest.