13 APR 2017

Syrian sarin gas attack

Kent Messenger Column - 13-04-17

In August 2013 over 1400 people are reported to have died, including 426 children, when Sarin gas was used against the people of Ghouta, a suburb of Damascus in Syria.

Our Parliament voted on military intervention specifically to prevent President Assad from continuing to use chemical weapons against his own people. I voted in favour but the motion was defeated. Since that time Assad's regime is said to have continued to employ a truly dreadful array of weapons including barrel bombs, vacuum rockets, cluster bombs, phosphorus weapons and chlorine gas, seemingly with impunity.

Last week sarin gas was used once again, provoking a robust but measured response from the US. I understand No.10 was given prior notice of the missile attack on the base from where the sarin bombs allegedly originated, but this was a unilateral decision and I have serious reservations as to motive.

Yes, a military response was justified; Yes, Assad must be in no uncertainty about the repercussions of using such heinous weapons; yes, Mr Putin must be sent a strong message that the time to back Assad has gone - continued support for a regime that gasses its own people could well result in Russia becoming a Pariah state itself.

My concern is that Trump's decision as Commander in Chief was unilateral and based upon political opportunism, seeking to reverse the hugely negative ratings his administration has attracted since he took office just three months ago.

A joint statement from the Russian / Iranian alliance supporting Assad has already warned of reprisals for any further military incursion by the US in Syria. Trump may have got away with this one but I fear the possible consequences of muscle flexing between two narcissistic leaders with such immense egos.

For now Britain's response is via increased medical aid. Let us hope we can return to seeking a political solution without further atrocity.

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