Theresa May: No alternative to military strikes in Syria
British Prime Minister Theresa May joined the U.S. and France on Friday in announcing a military response to an apparent chemical weapons attack in Syria, saying her authorization of targeted airstrikes was meant to deter the use of such chemical weapons.
“This is the first time as Prime Minister that I have had to take the decision to commit our armed forces in combat – and it is not a decision I have taken lightly,” she said in a statement released Friday night.
“We cannot allow the use of chemical weapons to become normalized – within Syria, on the streets of the U.K., or anywhere else in our world,” she continued.
“We would have preferred an alternative path. But on this occasion there is none.”
The comments were also a nod to the poisoning of a former Russian double agent and his daughter in Salisbury, England, last month with a nerve agent that sparked a fierce diplomatic dispute between a number of Western nations and Russia, which the U.S. and others blamed for the attack.
May issued her statement Friday as President Trump announced he had ordered “precision strikes” against Syria in response to an apparent chemical weapons attack by the forces of Syrian leader Bashar Assad.
Trump said during a televised appearance at the White House that the operation was launched in coordination with France and the United Kingdom and targeted Syria’s chemical weapons program.
Trump first warned in an early morning tweet Wednesday that “nice and new and ‘smart’ ” missiles would be headed to Syria, telling its ally Russia to “get ready.” The White House later said that a final decision on a strike had not yet been made.
Trump spoke by phone with May and French President Emmanuel Macron this week as the three leaders weighed their response to the attack in the Syrian town of Douma that left more than 40 people dead last weekend.
Trump said last weekend’s suspected gas attack was a “significant escalation” of the Syrian government’s efforts to inflict pain on its own citizens.
“These are not the actions of a man; they are crimes of a monster instead,” the president said.
He also pledged to maintain pressure on Syria’s government until it suspends the use of chemical weapons.