MPs will be recalled to the House of Commons on Thursday in order to debate the Syrian conflict and what the UK’s response should be following reports of a chemical weapons attack on Syrian civilians. It has also been announced that UK forces are drawing up contingency plans for possible military action.

No final decision on military intervention has been taken yet but crisis talks will be held on Thursday and the PM’s spokesman said this morning that it is “clear that chemical weapons were used and it’s the Syrian Government who’s responsible.”

David Cameron announced that “any response will be proportionate, lawful and carried out in agreement with international allies”.  It is, however, unlikely that there will be backing from the UN Security Council as China and Russia have stepped up warnings against military action.

The Shadow Foreign Secretary, Douglas Alexander urged caution saying, “I’m not prepared to write the government a blank cheque this morning. They haven’t been clear as to the military objective that they are aiming for, they aren’t clear on the basis of the evidence that they themselves have seen and they aren’t yet clear as to the legal basis on which any action would be conducted.”

The legal basis for action is, as yet, unclear, Michael Caplan QC, a leading international lawyer, talking to BBC News 24 said that  “Without a UN mandate I think that it will be difficult, we’ll have to justify it, it will be controversial. Can we really say, despite how dreadful the pictures are that there is going to be an imminent humanitarian catastrophe.”

This morning the Syrian Foreign Minister denied that the Syrian Government were responsible for the chemical attack. But US Defence Secretary, Chuck Hagel, speaking to John Sopel of the BBC said that, “It seems to me that it is clearer and clearer that the Government of Syria was responsible”. He added that US forces were “ready to go” if the order comes.

Former Prime Minister Tony Blair has used his column in the Times newspaper to call for action on Syria saying “The hand-wringing has to stop. We must act.”

The Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg insisted any intervention would not involve “boots on the ground” and also pledged that any invasion would be legal.

He said: “The use of chemical weapons on men, women and children is a flagrant abuse of international law and if we stand idly by we set a very dangerous precedent.”

However opposition to military intervention is now growing and Iran has warned that any such action would engulf the region.

Iranian foreign ministry spokesman, Abbas Araqchi, indicated it was ready to step in and back Assad.

“We want to strongly warn against any military attack in Syria. There will definitely be perilous consequences for the region,” Araqchi told a news conference. “These complications and consequences will not be restricted to Syria. It will engulf the whole region.”

UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon described the use of chemical weapons as an outrageous crime and warned that if proven to be the case, then the UN: “… cannot allow impunity in what appears to be a grave crime against humanity,”


2013-08-27 17:58

It would be helpful if Mr Hague would reveal his evidence to the UK population that Assad has and has used chemical weapons when the opposite is being claimed by other leaders.A vague Hague hunch is not enough to commit our country to an unwinnable war.
2013-08-27 18:48

oh com’n – when have we ever let facts get in the way way of an “intervention”. Do you realise how big a boost this can give your party in the polls. All the main Westminster parties support it so it must be OK.

On a serious note – your question is absolutely valid. Which is why it will not be asked at Westminster by any of the main parties.

Why is the UK so willing to employ force when other nations advise caution?

2013-08-27 19:05

There will be a full and frank debate and then they will do whatever the Americans tell them to do.
Westminster can be described in the same way as their HS2 scheme has been “a grand folly which should be scrapped”.
2013-08-27 19:12

The ‘no boots on the ground’ approach is beginning to sound a bit sick. ‘Public, calm yourself, none of ours will be hit, forget about ‘them’, they deserve it’.
We know from experience this approach means more civilians dead, more refugees.
It sounds like US warmongering, sheep following.
After all this time, with tens of thousands dead and millions of refugees, action with no real plan.
Hitting airfields will also mean hitting power stations, and civilian facilities.
2013-08-27 19:32

Here we go again… David Cameron must be wishing it was Argentina & the Falklands…!

But no, this time it’s chemical weapons in Syria… & best of all Tony (bliar) says it’s OK!

Far past time we were out of this lot…!

Independence means WE get to decide who we go to war against ( and I sincerely hope that situation never appears on any debate listing in Holyrood!)
2013-08-27 19:59

David Cameron said this is not about a war in the Middle East. What exactly does he think will happen if the West drop bombs in Syria? Russia and Iran, not to mention Syria, have warned that there will be consequences if we intervene. As far as TB is concerned, is he not the one who took us into an illegal war in Iraq? Enough said!
2013-08-27 20:16

You would of thought that they could of come up with a more original excuse for this war………..
2013-08-27 20:37

Regardless of whether Assad instigated the chemical attack, I believe that it would be madness for UK or anyone else to engage in military action, the consequences of escalation being unknowable but probably catastrophic. Far better to lavish our billions on looking after the refugees than intervene violently in a vastly complex situation which we do not understand.
2013-08-27 20:58

Any military intervention would inevitably lead to more civilians being killed which is not an option. It has to be by negotiation and surely there are other ways? Empowering people to stand up against such regimes is the only way. The west has to stop propping up rogue regimes, only then will things become more equal and more manageable for the people of countries with such volatile, tyranic and oppressive leaders.
2013-08-27 21:22

The problem with Westminster is they’re too stupid, too poor and too small to understand the situation and likely consequences of their actions.
They’ll go to war and may the Lord have mercy on their bloodied hands.
2013-08-27 21:55

Westminster over the last number of years has not served the country well, having spawned a complete bunch of twits, from Blair, Campbell and others who got us to waste billions in a pointless failure in Iraq to that squad of sixth formers, the Bullingdon buffoons with no experience of life other than the silver spoon. As for the ineffectual Hague loudly braying impotent threats from behind the tailcoat of Uncle Sam……….!Hasn’t Blair been an absolute star as Middle East Peace Envoy. Please God, give us a mature, wise government with some real experience of life like our lot in Edinburgh. Vote YES.
2013-08-27 22:17

The danger of this ‘intervention’ should not be underestimated given that Syria is supported by Russia, China and Iran. Syria now possesses a range of sophisticated weaponry,and what happens if they retaliate, either by attacking US ships or indeed Israel?
This in the context of Obama, Cameron and Hollande now beating war drums in advance of the verification of where the chemical weapons originated.
There is an extremely dangerous game of geopolitics being played out here. Not in my name!
2013-08-27 22:22

The UN is becoming the League of Nations. It was dominated by demagoguery and failed to prevent war; plus ça change..
2013-08-27 23:11

When will The US and their lackeys at Westminster realise that the days of playing World Policeman are over – it is no business of either The US or The UK.

No military intervention should take place other than under The UN Flag.
2013-08-27 23:13

It was reported on Al Jazeera tonight that if Syria is attacked Iran has hinted that they will assist Syria, and Russia has made noises in the same vein.
2013-08-28 16:25

Another BS story from the west, that will allow a bloody war to continue, with the ultimate intent of installing a western puppet government in Syria, only Russia wont want to lose Syria to the west without a fight and if China get involved it could spiral out of control another Angola war is looming in Syria, god help the citizens caught up in the fire.
willie boy
2013-08-29 20:39

Acording to the Guardian it is reported that Downing Street and the foreign office issued a statement to the Times on Wednesday evening that Miliband was a ” c,°nt and a copper bottomed shit.

Terms you all really about this Tory government as they see th for war.
call me dave
2013-08-29 21:58

Ed needs the headlines that suggest he’s a statesman. I don’t think it’s as good as that for him, but rather like copper, he’s gone up in my estimation.(slightly)

Time is required for evidence and to reach a proper assessment.

However the French and Uncle Sam are trigger happy they might not wait!
2013-08-29 23:08

It’s like putting monkeys in front of typewriters, eventually they will produce something worthwhile…/…

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