Global chemical weapons watchdog 'on its way to Syria'

Global chemical weapons watchdog 'on its way to Syria'

But across Western capitals opposition to military action also grew.

Echoing the U.S. stance, France said Assad's government had reached a "point of no return" with repeated use of chemical weapons.

"Training exercises were clearly already under way at RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus in preparation for a possible counterattack by the Russians", says The Guardian.

The Secretary of Defence Jim Mattis has made it clear he has significant concerns over the unforeseen consequences of a strike on Syria.

The United States, Britain and France made the case at the United Nations on Friday for military action against Syria, saying President Bashar al-Assad's repeated use of chemical weapons posed a threat to the world.

Prime Minister Theresa May was holding an emergency cabinet to discuss joining mooted strikes by the USA and allies, as rival politicians and some Conservative colleagues called for a parliamentary vote before any British involvement.

The United States is consulting with Britain and France about a joint military response to an alleged toxic gas attack in Douma that medics and rescuers said left at least 40 people dead on Saturday.

But British involvement in further military intervention is controversial at home, in a country still haunted by its role in the US-led invasion of Iraq.




The Assad regime is known to have stocks of the nerve agent sarin, and has previously used a mixture of chlorine and sarin in attacks, say USA officials.

But rival politicians and some Conservative colleagues have called for a parliamentary vote before any British involvement. The Downing Street statement did not mention parliament, and a spokeswoman did not comment on those reports.

Formally, the prime minister has the right to go to war without approval from parliament, but a convention has been established in previous conflicts where MPs have a vote either before or shortly after military action begins. A YouGov poll showed just one in five members of the public support a strike on Syria.

British lawmakers voted down taking military action against Damascus in 2013, in what was widely viewed as an assertion of parliamentary sovereignty on the use of force.

Opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn said parliament should be consulted before May approved military action.

"Cabinet agreed on the need to take action to alleviate humanitarian distress and to deter the further use of chemical weapons..."

The Times reports that "the largest USA air and naval strike force since the 2003 Iraq war" is now heading towards Syria, and that US-led strikes are expected to begin "within the next three days".

"But on a strategic level, it's how do we keep this from escalating out of control - if you get my drift on that", Mattis told the House Armed Services Committee Thursday morning.

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