Britain had no choice but to conduct air strikes, Theresa May says

Theresa May has summoned ministers for an emergency cabinet meeting on Thursday afternoon

British Prime Minister Theresa May joined the US and France on Friday in announcing a military response to a chemical weapons attack in Syria, saying her authorization of targeted airstrikes was meant to deter the use of such chemical weapons.

"So there is no practicable alternative to the use of force to degrade and deter the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime", May said.

Opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn said parliament should be consulted before May approved military action.

U.S. President Donald Trump said he was prepared to sustain the response until the government of Assad stopped its use of chemical weapons. "Following a discussion in which every member present made a contribution, Cabinet agreed it was vital that the use of chemical weapons did not go unchallenged", the spokesperson added.

President Vladimir Putin has said Russian Federation will call an emergency session of the UN Security Council over air strikes on Syria.

It comes as Russian Federation and the United States traded fresh blows as the latest round of talks at the UN Security Council.

Prime minister Theresa May said the decision to launch the strikes was not taken lightly, but she believed it to be in the UK's national interest. On Thursday, Trump tweeted that an attack "could be very soon or not so soon at all!".

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in a statement that Canada stands with its allies and that it supports the decision " to take action to degrade the Assad regime's ability to launch chemical weapons attacks against its own people".

"To do so would normalise the use of chemical weapons, inviting Assad and other dictators to carry on deploying them with impunity".

A Downing Street spokesperson added: "They agreed to keep working closely together on the worldwide response".

The UK asserts that the action is not about interfering in a civil war or about regime change.

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Making the case for military action, the document further stated: "The UK is permitted under global law, on an exceptional basis, to take measures in order to alleviate overwhelming humanitarian suffering... there is convincing evidence, generally accepted by the worldwide community as a whole, of extreme humanitarian distress on a large scale, requiring immediate and urgent relief".

The military action was announced by President Donald Trump on Friday after a suspected chemical attack in Douma, Syria earlier this month that killed dozens.

Syrian television reported that Syria's air defenses, which are substantial, responded to the attack. "Could be very soon or not so soon at all!" he wrote.

The prime mister said that the attack was a "success" according to a preliminary assessment, while the data is still being evaluated.

Volunteer first responders and activists said a chemical attack by the Syrian government killed more than 40 people in the town of Douma, which drew worldwide outrage and prompted Washington and its allies to consider a military response.

British MPs voted down taking military action against Damascus in 2013, in what was widely viewed as an assertion of parliamentary sovereignty on the use of force.

"It shows a weak government putting short term political expediency before democracy and in so doing further diminishing the standing of Britain in the world", Cable said.

In a statement Wednesday, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called on the Security Council to reach an agreement on the "continued use of chemical weapons" in Syria and cautioned the situation could quickly spiral out of control if it didn't.

On Friday campaigners from the Stop the War Coalition will hand in a letter signed by MPs, trade unionists, celebrities and academics to Downing Street urging Mrs May to not take military action in Syria.

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