Legal basis for British strikes in Syria debatable - opposition leader

Saul Bowman
April 16, 2018

As Theresa May weighs up whether to call a vote in the Commons on Britain's strikes against the Assad regime in Syria, the Labour leader insisted that the bombing raids launched early yesterday morning were illegal.

'Where is the legal basis for this?' he said.

And he refused to accept the British intelligence assessment that Assad was definitely to blame.

Corbyn called for the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons to be given the chance to report on the incident and that Assad and "any other group" found to be responsible should be "confronted with evidence".

PM should have sought parliamentary approval before any military strike, opposition Labour Party leader says.

"If we want to get the moral high ground, as a country with a history of global involvement, then we need to abide by worldwide law, and I say to the foreign secretary, and I say to the prime minister, where is the legal basis for this?" he told the BBC.

She told ITV's Peston On Sunday: 'We think that it should be in law that there should be a vote in Parliament before we take military action.

"I think what we need in this country is something more robust like a War Powers Act so governments do get held to account by parliament for what they do in our name".

Britain published its legal position for carrying out the strikes on Saturday.

She spent the evening calling world leaders, including key regional figures such as Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman, King Abdullah of Jordan, and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, to explain why she had ordered British military involvement in the US-led strikes. "The humanitarian intervention is a legally debatable concept at the present time", he said in an interview with the BBC.

"It looked awfully to me as though the prime minister was more interested in following Donald Trump's lead than anything else".

Asked if he agreed with his shadow chancellor John McDonnell that it was a Russian state-sponsored attack, Mr Corbyn replied: "If we are going to make a very, very clear assertion like that we have got to have the absolute evidence to do it".

Mr Corbyn said he wanted to see MPs given the chance to vote on the Government's next steps, and said the United Kingdom and its allies must now give the worldwide chemical weapons watchdog "the chance to go in and fully investigate everything" and push for a fresh round of dialogue to end the Syria conflict.

He added: "What I would say is there has to be a process where the objective is to bring about peace to bring about a resolution to conflict, to bring about a political solution".

"This is not going to turn the tide of the conflict in Syria. The war could go on and get worse". Foreign secretary Boris Johnson said the air strikes were created to deter Bashar al-Assad's regime and others around the world from using chemical weapons.

Mr Trump declared it was "mission accomplished" after the "perfectly executed" operation.

Mr Johnson did not rule out further airstrikes when pressed on what would happen if Syria's Bashar al Assad used chemical weapons again.

But amid fears of revenge attacks by Russian Federation, the Foreign Secretary stressed there was no intention of getting more deeply involved in the Syrian civil war.

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