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Middle East

UK plays down imminence of Syria intervention


Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2013-08-29

Preparations for US-led strikes in Syria appeared to slow down on Wednesday as the UK pledged to wait for the report of UN chemical inspectors before any military action and talks stalled on a Security Council resolution.

Preparations for US-led strikes in Syria appeared to slow down on Wednesday as the UK pledged to wait for the report of UN chemical inspectors before any military action and talks stalled on a Security Council resolution.

A British government motion published ahead of a parliamentary vote on Thursday stated that “every effort” should be made to secure the backing of the Security Council.

The UK now plans to wait for experts investigating allegations that President Bashar al-Assad's regime used chemical weapons in an attack on the outskirts of Damascus on August 21 to finish their inspections and put their findings to the Security Council. The British parliament will then take another vote on the UK’s participation in a potential offensive.

The motion followed a dead-end in talks on a UN resolution drafted by the UK. The British draft aimed to allow the use of force to protect civilians, but Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the Security Council had to wait for the results of the UN investigation into the use of chemical weapons before it considered such a resolution.

FRANCE 24 outlines the latest international reactions to potential military intervention in Syria:

  • UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said UN inspectors needed four days to conclude their investigation. He urged the divided UN Security Council to unite and bring peace to Syria.
  • NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said that information from a variety of sources indicated Assad’s government was responsible for using chemical weapons. He added that the use of any such arms was “unacceptable and cannot go unanswered”.
  • During a phone call initiated by Britain, Lavrov told Foreign Secretary William Hague it is necessary “to wait for the results of the work of the mission of UN inspectors who are currently in Syria”, the Russian Foreign Ministry said.
  • The British government then tabled a motion for a parliamentary vote on Thursday, calling on UN chemical weapons inspectors to finish their inspections and issue their report. “The United Nations Security Council must have the opportunity immediately to consider that briefing and (…) every effort should be made to secure a Security Council Resolution backing military action before any such action is taken,” it stated. “Before any direct British involvement in such action a further vote of the House of Commons will take place.”
  • The UN-Arab League special envoy for Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, said it was clear a chemical substance had been used in an August 21 attack near Damascus, killing hundreds of people. Brahimi also said that any international military action in Syria must be approved by the UN Security Council.

  • Syrian Prime Minister Wael al-Halqi warned that his country would become a “graveyard of the invaders” if there was a military intervention.
  • He also accused Western countries of “inventing” excuses to take military action.
  • The Israeli cabinet authorised a partial call-up of army reservists amid growing expectations of a military strike, army radio reported.
  • Turkey’s Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu announced that the country’s armed forces had been placed on alert to guard against any potential threat from Syria, adding that “all options” remained open regarding any international action.
  • Iraqi premier Nuri al-Maliki dismissed military action as a “dead end” as he put his own country on high alert.
  • Any military intervention by the United States against Syria will spell “disaster” for the region, Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei warned.
  • Russia warned that military strikes against Assad’s regime could destabilise the entire Middle East, and again denied his government was behind the suspected attack.

(FRANCE 24 with wires)

Date created : 2013-08-28


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