Calls for Westminster recall as Syrian crisis grows

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  By Angela Haggerty
 
The SNP’s Foreign Affairs spokesman and Westminster leader, Angus Robertson, has echoed growing calls for the UK parliament to be recalled amid the deepening crisis in Syria.
 
Mr Robertson said it was important for UN investigators in the country to complete their investigations and for the UK parliament to be kept informed of the situation.

“The Syria situation is very serious and parliament has to be recalled,” said Mr Robertson.  “The United Nations inspectors must be able to complete their assessments of chemical weapons use and report back to the UN.  The UK Parliament must be updated on developments and consulted on potential international military intervention.

“The UK government has given commitments for parliamentary approval should there be moves to supply combatants in Syria with weapons, so it would be unthinkable to not consult parliament on the prospect of military intervention. Parliament must be recalled to discuss the Syria situation.”

The Syrian civil war further deteriorated on Wednesday after the alleged use of chemical weapons against Syrian civilians, which is estimated to have killed at least 300 people, including children.

The West has pointed the finger for the attack at the regime of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad.  However, Assad denies the accusations, telling a Russian publication in an interview that the allegations were “contrary to basic logic”.  He added that the claims were an “insult to common sense” and said a series of government victories against the rebels had prompted the West to make the “political” accusations.

Russia has warned against any military action in Syria, warning the West that intervention would be a “tragic mistake”.  Russian Foreign Minister Alexander Lukashevich urged governments discussing military action to “use their common sense” and allow UN inspectors to carry out their investigations.

However, President Obama said in June that the use of chemical weapons would be a “red line” for the United States and UK Foreign Secretary William Hague refused to rule military strikes against Syrian targets out, saying that Britain, the US and France were clear that chemical weapons could not be “used with impunity”.

UK Prime Minister David Cameron has cut short his holiday ahead of National Security Council meeting on Wednesday and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has cancelled a visit to Afghanistan.

During a conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Mr Cameron said there was “little doubt” the Syrian government was behind the use of chemical weapons but President Putin argued that there was not enough evidence to support the claim.

The latest incident is not the first in the wartorn country to involve the alleged use of chemical weapons, but there have been disputes over who is responsible for using them.

In June, the Syrian government accused the US of using “fabricated information” after allegations that Mr Assad’s forces had used chemical agent sarin on a “small scale”.  The news was followed by indications that the US would provide military aid to Syrian rebels trying to overthrow the government.

But a month before the allegation was made, a UN human rights investigator and former war crimes prosecutor, Carla del Ponte, said witness testimonies gathered in Syria indicated that rebel forces had also used chemical weapons, casting doubt on the US “red line” of chemical weapons use.

 

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