Britain to ask UN for approval to protect Syrian civilians

The British government on Wednesday will ask the United Nations Security Council for authority to use “all necessary measures” to protect civilians in Syria from chemical attacks. 

The move comes as the United States and its allies move closer to a likely military strike against the regime of President Bashar Assad, who is accused of using chemical weapons in an alleged attack last week near Damascus that killed hundreds. 

“We’ve always said we want the U.N. Security Council to live up to its responsibilities on Syria,” British Prime Minister David Cameron said, according to the Los Angeles Times. “Today they have an opportunity to do that.”

Cameron has recalled the British parliament to vote on a resolution authorizing a military intervention in Syria. 

The British government will seek U.N. authorization under Chapter 7 of the organization’s charter to take a range of actions from diplomatic to military, The Wall Street Journal reported. 

In a statement, Cameron’s office said “we have always made clear that we want the U.N. Security Council to live up to its responsibilities on Syria.”

It added that “today we are giving its permanent members the opportunity to do that.”

Russia and China, which hold veto power on the Security Council, are expected to oppose any call for military strikes. 

The British government’s move comes amid reports that President Obama, as earlier as Thursday, will publicly release evidence detailing U.S intelligence gathered about how Assad’s regime carried out the chemical weapons attack. 

The United Nation's special envoy to Syria said Wednesday evidence shows some kind of chemical “substance” was used in an attack last week that killed hundreds of people, according to reports.

A U.N. inspection team on Wednesday is investigating the alleged poison gas attack. 

U.N. envoy Lakhdar Brahimi emphasized that any military strike against the war-torn nation must be approved by the U.N. Security Council.

“It does seem like some kind of substance was used,” Brahimi told reporters in Geneva, but “international law says that any U.S.-led military action must be taken after” agreement in the Security Council.

“President Obama and the American administration are not known for being trigger-happy. What they will decide I don’t know, but certainly international law is very clear. The Security Council has to be brought in,” Brahimi said. 

Lara Seligman contributed