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LRC Statement On Syria - April 2017

10th April 2017

Donald Trump’s response to the death of “beautiful babies” caused by the latest chemical gas attack in Syria has been to kill a few more. Reports suggest at least four children were killed in the US missile strike on a Syrian airbase in Idlib province. The British government fell into line calling the US action “appropriate”.

Jeremy Corbyn’s statement about the attacks correctly said that the “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.”

Meanwhile, US airstrikes in North-Eastern Syria and around Mosul in Iraq are inflicting scores of casualties on a daily basis. Except for one recent occasion when a single coalition airstrike on Mosul killed nearly 300 civilians, this relentless bombardment has scarcely been considered worth reporting by much of the media.

The response of western powers to the suffering of the Syrian people at the hands of the Assad regime, rebel groups, ISIS and other external forces seems mired in hypocrisy. The British government itself granted export licenses to a UK manufacturer less than five years ago to allow to be sent to Syria the ingredients that constitute the chemical weapons most likely to have been used. Trump, having demanded that the previous Administration do nothing to bring down the Assad regime when it was at its weakest, now intervenes when it appears to be winning its bloody civil war. It would not be too cynical to suggest that his policy is simply one of prolonging the Syrian conflict to prevent the emergence of any power in the region that could destabilise US interests.

Trump’s intervention has done nothing to bring peace or a resolution of the conflict to the Syrian people and in practice has increased international tensions with other powers globally. Only negotiations leading to a comprehensive political settlement can resolve the war in Syria – now an urgent priority for all who claim to want to stop the atrocities being perpetrated by many sides in the conflict.

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