UK Opts Out Of Syria Intervention, US and France Still Prepared To Strike
THE GUARDIAN (UK), LE MONDE(France), BBC, AFP, REUTERS
LONDON — The U.K. Parliament dealt a heavy blow to a gathering international coalition against the Syrian regime – and David Cameron's premiership – by voting against a crucial government motion that would have paved the way for British involvement in a possible intervention in Syria.
The British decision prompted the United States and France to reaffirm their determination to act if they decide military action is warranted. Caitlin Hayden, a spokeswoman for Barack Obama's National Security Council, said that the president's "decision-making will be guided by what is in the best interests of the United States," the Guardian reports.
In France, President François Hollande stated in an interview with Le Monde on Friday that his country could participate in a possible strike on Syria, even without the aid of their British ally.
"Every country is sovereign (and can) participate in a military operation or not. That applies to Britain as well as France," he said, adding that he would have "in-depth talks" with Barack Obama later on Friday. However, Hollande did not explicitly rule out a strike before consulting the French Parliament next Wednesday.
Asked whether military action could begin before Parliament consultation, Hollande said: “I rule out making a decision before I have all the elements that would justify it. I asked for an extraordinary session of Parliament to be called on Wednesday to debate on Syria. And if I decide to intervene, the government will inform it of the means and objectives, in accordance with the Constitution.”
David Cameron admitted his defeat after the government's motion was voted down by 285-272, with an estimated 30 MPs from his majority voting against it. "It is clear to me that the British parliament, reflecting the views of the British people, does not want to see British military action," Cameron said. "I get that and the government will act accordingly." Cameron also assured leader of the opposition Ed Miliband that he would not use the royal prerogative to bypass the Parliament's decision.
The United Kingdom, along with the United States and France, had been calling for and preparing an intervention against Syrian president Bashar al-Assad's forces, after it allegedly used chemical weapons to strike in rebel-held territory. All three countries have said they had "compelling evidence" proving the Syrian government's responsibility.
Meanwhile, Germany said it would not take part in a possible intervention, AFP reports. Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle told the regional newspaper Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung that "Germany hasn't been asked to participate, and doesn't intend to."
A United Nations team of investigators probing the attack is due to leave Syria on Saturday morning after a final day of study in the area affected.
On Thursday evening, the BBC published footage of what it claims is the aftermath of an incendiary bomb attack on a school near Aleppo, in northwest Syria. The BBC team says eyewitnesses described how a fighter jet flew over the school several times before dropping a bomb.
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Montage of Friday's UK front pages - Photo: @suttonnick (Twitter)