LONDON — Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn criticised the United States for taking action in Syria, saying the missile strike risks “escalating the war further still.”
Corbyn, a lifelong opponent of military action overseas, said in a statement on Friday morning that the decision of US President Donald Trump to launch a missile attack on the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was not the solution to the conflict there.
The US launched 59 cruise missiles at an airfield and nearby military infrastructure controlled by Assad on Thursday night, in response to a chemical attack that killed at least 80 people in the troubled country on Monday.
President Trump, initially reluctant to becoming involved in the Syria conflict, said it was in the vital national security interest of the US to prevent the use of chemical weapons. “No child of God should suffer such horror,” Trump said.
But the Labour leader has condemned the President for opting for military action without “legal authorisation” over an increased effort to reconvene peace talks.
In his statement, Corbyn said:
“The US missile attack on a Syrian government air base risks escalating the war in Syria still further.
“Tuesday’s horrific chemical attack was a war crime which requires urgent independent UN investigation and those responsible must be held to account.
“But unilateral military action without legal authorisation or independent verification risks intensifying a multi-sided conflict that has already killed hundreds of thousands of people.
“What is needed instead is to urgently reconvene the Geneva peace talks and unrelenting international pressure for a negotiated settlement of the conflict.
“The terrible suffering of the Syrian people must be brought to an end as soon as possible and every intervention must be judged on what contribution it makes to that outcome.
“The British government should urge restraint on the Trump administration and throw its weight behind peace negotiations and a comprehensive political settlement.”
The statement puts him at odds with his deputy Tom Watson and Labour MPs including Dan Jarvis and John Woodcock who have come out in support of the missile attack.
Prime Minister Theresa May supports Trump’s decision to directly attack the Assad regime. A government spokesperson described the moved as “an appropriate response to the barbaric chemical weapons attack launched by the Syrian regime, and is intended to deter further attacks.”
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