United Kingdom jets fire at Syrian base in 'limited and targeted' strike

Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May at 10 Downing Street Ben STANSALL  AFP

"International law only allows to use force in self-defense or under a Security Council mandate", an embassy press officer said, commenting on the UK's clarification of its legal position, which claimed that the legal basis for the strikes against Syria was "humanitarian intervention".

In the biggest foreign military action so far against Syria's regime, Western officials said a barrage of cruise and air-to-land missiles hit targets near Damascus and in Homs province including a scientific research centre, storage facilities and a command post.

"The overwhelming why this was the right thing to do, and that is to deter the use of chemical weapons - not just by the Assad regime - but around the world", Mr Johnson said.

May said intelligence and open source accounts indicated that the regime was behind the attack in Douma last Saturday.

May has repeatedly said that the missile strike on Syria was not about "regime change". "No other group could have carried this attack", May said.

"This is the first time as prime minister that I have had to take the decision to commit our armed forces in combat -- and it is not a decision I have taken lightly".

May said while the strike was targeted at Syria, it sent a message to anyone who used chemical weapons.

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She said that at an emergency cabinet meeting in London on Thursday "we agreed that it was both right and legal to take military action" after hearing legal advice.

"I have done so because I judge this action to be in Britain's national interest", she added.

"America does not seek an indefinite presence in Syria", he said, thanking the United Kingdom and France for joining the U.S. in its fight against the Syrian regime.

Russia, which intervened in the war in 2015 to back Assad, has denied there was a chemical attack and has accused Britain of helping to stage the Douma incident to stoke anti-Russian hysteria.

Shortly after the military strikes were launched, Scotland's first minister Nicola Sturgeon said United Kingdom foreign policy should be set by Parliament and not Donald Trump after the U.S., United Kingdom and France bombed targets in Syria.

Correspondents from the British and world press also asked the prime minister to explain what role can the Parliament play in making a decision to attack another sovereign country.

For his part, the leader of the UK Independence Party (UKIP), Gerard Batten, opposed the British military action in Syria.

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