News Column

U.K. to Present Resolution on Syria to U.N.

August 28, 2013
david cameron
British Prime Minister David Cameron (official portrait)

Britain will offer to the U.N. Security Council a resolution that would authorize military intervention in Syria, Prime Minister David Cameron said.

Cameron announced the plan on his Twitter page after the Labor Party decided to take a harder stand on the issue by making support for the government in Thursday's House of Commons vote conditional on Cameron seeking U.N. involvement, The Guardian reported Wednesday.

Cameron said Britain would offer a resolution during a Wednesday meeting of the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council after condemning the reported use of chemical weapons by Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime and "authorizing necessary measures to protect civilians."

"We've always said we want the U.N. Security Council to live up to its responsibilities on Syria," Cameron posted on his Twitter page. "Today they have an opportunity to do that."

In a speech Tuesday U.S. Vice President Joe Biden said there was "no doubt" the Syrian government had used chemical weapons in an attack last week in the suburbs of Damascus. On Monday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said it was "undeniable" that forces loyal to Assad used chemical weapons in the attack.

In Washington, the White House plans to release evidence as soon as Thursday it said will prove Assad's regime is responsible for the Aug. 21 chemical attack outside Damascus that killed more than 1,000 people, The Washington Post reported Wednesday.

Assad has denied the charges and has accused rebels of using chemical weapons.

Two of Syria's biggest allies -- Russia and China -- are permanent members of the Security Council and have been staunch opponents of anti-Syrian initiatives.

Cameron spoke with President Obama Tuesday night before a meeting of Britain's National Security Council where military officials were to outline a series of options for targeted attacks against Syria at arm's length, The Guardian said.

While officials said Cameron and Obama had not agreed on the "specific nature" of their response, it was understood they were planning limited missile attacks, likely before the end of the week.

A White House readout of Tuesday's call said the two leaders "discussed possible responses by the international community to the indiscriminate use of chemical weapons on Aug. 21 and agreed to stay in close consultation in the coming days."

Cameron Tuesday recalled Parliament to allow members to vote on the matter Thursday.

At first the Labor Party indicated it would be willing to back the government's position but later said its support was conditional.

"We have made it clear that we want to see a clear legal basis for any action," a Labor Party spokesman said. "As part of the legal justification, Labor is seeking the direct involvement of the United Nations through the evidence of the weapons inspectors and consideration by the security council."

The report by the office of National Intelligence Director James Clapper is a final step before Obama decides on a U.S. military strike against Syria, the Post said.

Administration officials describe a U.S. attack as all but inevitable.

"We are prepared," Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told the BBC. "We have moved assets in place to be able to fulfill and comply with whatever option the president wishes to take. We are ready to go."

The assets include four cruise-missile-armed destroyers from the U.S. Navy's 6th Fleet positioned in the Mediterranean Sea.

Three days of U.S. missile strikes against Syria could start as early as Thursday, NBC said, citing senior U.S. officials.

Britain, France and Turkey have expressed a willingness to contribute to military action.

Russia evacuated dozens of Russian nationals, mostly women and children, from Syria aboard a special plane sent by Russia's Emergencies Ministry, RIA Novosti reported.

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Source: Copyright UPI 2013

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