British PM Defends Syria Strike: We Have Not Done this because Trump Asked us to

British PM Defends Syria Strike: We Have Not Done this because Trump Asked us to

Monday, 16 April, 2018 - 17:45
British Prime Minister Theresa May. (Reuters)
Asharq Al-Awsat
British Prime Minister Theresa May defended on Monday her country’s decision to carry out strikes against Syria, saying “it was the right thing to do.”

She denied that she was pressured by US President Donald Trump to go ahead with the strikes against Syrian regime chemical installations.

"We have not done this because President Trump asked us to, we have done it because we believed it was the right thing to do, and we are not alone. There is broad-based international support for the action we have taken," May told a parliament hearing.

She stressed that London was determined to prevent the use of chemical weapons becoming normalized.

Asked whether she could order new strikes if chemical weapons were found to have been used in the future, May replied: "Nobody should be in any doubt of our resolve to ensure that we cannot see a situation where the use of chemical weapons is normalized."

She added that lawmakers were right to hold her to account for her actions, after the premier proceeded with the strikes without prior parliamentary approval.

"But it is my responsibility as prime minster to make these decisions. And I will make them," May, 61, said of the intervention.

Opposition Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn called for new legislation to stop governments launching military action without lawmakers' backing in most circumstances.

"The prime minister is accountable to this parliament, not to the whims of the US president," he told a packed chamber.

Following Washington's military lead remains a sensitive subject in Britain, where memories of participation in the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 are still raw.

In France, President Emmanuel Macron has faced similar criticism for attacking Syria without consulting the legislature.

He defended the move as well as his constitutional powers in a TV interview on Sunday.

"This mandate is given democratically to the president by the people in the presidential election," said Macron.

The French prime minister said Western airstrikes on Syria sent a strong, clear message to dissuade Syria's regime from using chemical weapons.

Edouard Philippe told French lawmakers France's "riposte" was "proportionate." He says it was limited to Syrian chemical facilities to avoid harming civilians and to prevent an escalation.

The strikes were prompted by a regime chemical attack on the town of Douma, which left at least 40 people dead.

The April 7 development sparked global outrage with the West urging Russia to rein in the regime.

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