Cabinet ministers agree ‘need for action’ in Syria


Cabinet ministers have agreed “on the need to take action” in Syria to “deter the further use of chemical weapons”, Downing Street has said.

Ministers agreed it was “highly likely” the Assad regime was responsible for a suspected chemical attack at a cabinet meeting lasting more than two hours.

Sources say the PM is prepared to take action against the Assad regime without first seeking Parliamentary consent.

It comes after a suspected chemical attack on the Syrian city of Douma, eastern Ghouta, reportedly killed 70 people and injured 500 at the weekend.

The former chancellor Ken Clarke has said parliament should be recalled this weekend if the cabinet backs military intervention in Syria.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s World at One programme he said: “In a modern parliamentary democracy you’ve got to have parliamentary approval if you have a planned policy decision to launch a military attack.”

The Tory MP said he would back targeted strikes but only after a debate in parliament. He said:

“The government must get approval for such an important policy before it acts. As it happens they would get my support for a proportionate well-targeted attack that was hitting some significant facilities that were associated with the use of chemical weapons. If we don’t do that then Assad keeps trying his hand and he will feel uninhibited.”

Meanwhile French President Emmanuel Macron said that he had “proof” that the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad had used chemical weapons and would announce his response “in due course”.

“We have proof that chemical weapons were used last week, at least chlorine, and that they were used by the regime of Bashar al-Assad,” Macron said during an interview on France’s TF1 television.

The French leader, who had made the use of chemical weapons in Syria a “red line”, said one of his aims in Syria was to “remove the regime’s chemical attack capabilities”.