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Theresa May declares Syria air strikes successful

Press Trust of India  |  London 

Air strikes by Britain, and the in sent a "clear message" against the use of chemical weapons, British said today and declared the action as successful.

The British told reporters at a Downing Street press conference on Saturday that the coordinated strikes to degrade the Bashar al-Assad led Syrian regime's capability involved four (RAF) Tornado GR 4s.

"This collective action sends a clear message that the international community will not stand by and tolerate the use of chemical weapons," she said.

The tornadoes launched storm shadow missiles at a military facility some 15 miles west of Homs, where the Assad regime was assessed to have kept in breach of Syria's obligations under the Convention.

"While the full assessment of the strike is ongoing, we are confident of its success it was a limited, targeted and effective strike with clear boundaries that expressly sought to avoid escalation and did everything possible to prevent civilian casualties," May said.

Acknowledging that there no "graver decision" for a than to commit the country's forces to combat, said that following discussions with US and French the trio had agreed to hit a specific and limited set of targets.

These included a and production facility, a key and a military bunker involved in

"Hitting these targets with the force that we have deployed will significantly degrade the Syrian Regime's ability to research, develop and deploy chemical weapons," she said.

Making a reference to Russia, which has been supporting the Syrian regime, indicated that the strikes were also intended as a message to over its own use of a deadly nerve agent against former Russian and his daughter in Salisbury last month.

"We cannot allow the use of chemical weapons to become normalised either within Syria, on the streets of the UK or elsewhere. We must reinstate the global consensus that chemical weapons cannot be used," she said.

In a statement, Russian described the air strikes as an "act of aggression" by the three western allies, which would worsen the humanitarian crisis in

The UK's Opposition party branded the strikes as "legally questionable", conducted without the backing or vote in the condemned the government's involvement in the US-led strikes, saying it "makes real accountability for war crimes and use of chemical weapons less, not more likely".

May said that due to "operational security reasons" it had been "right and legal" to take the action in the way that the US, and Britain had.

The strikes, which had been expected since Trump had tweeted a series of warnings to over the past week, follows reports last Saturday of up to 75 people, including young children, being killed in the Syrian city of

Theresa May stressed that after assessments, alongside the US and France, all the indications were that it had been a which led to some harrowing images of men, women and children lying dead with foam in their mouths.

The British PM had received her Cabinet's backing for military action during an emergency meeting on Thursday. The UK asserts that the action is not about interfering in a civil war or about regime change.

Earlier on Saturday, UK also described the air strikes as a "highly successful mission", adding that the UK, and had played an important role in "degrading the ability of the Syrian regime to use chemical weapons".

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Sat, April 14 2018. 15:55 IST