Johnson insists military strikes were solely about the use of chemical weapons

The UK Foreign secretary says the action was not an attempt to influence the ongoing Syrian conflict

Johnson insists military strikes were solely about the use of chemical weapons

File photo of UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson arriving at 10 Downing Street, London. Image: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire/PA Images

The British Foreign Secretary has insisted that yesterday’s missile strikes were solely about the Syrian government’s use of chemical weapons.   

Boris Johnson said the joint military action from the US, UK and France had nothing to do with forcing a regime change in Syria or “trying to turn the tide” of the conflict in the Middle Eastern country.

Speaking on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show he said the global taboo on the use of chemical weapons has been steadily eroded over recent years, adding that the world has now said enough is enough:

“I think it was very important for everybody to communicate very, very clearly to the Russians, to the Iranians, to the Assad regime what this was about,” he said.

“This was about chemical weapons.

“This was about three particular sites, this was about our determination to send a signal to act as a deterrent.”

The US, UK and France has circulated a draft joint resolution at the UN Security Council calling for an independent investigation into allegations that Syrian Government forces are using chemical weapons.

The document also calls for a ceasefire resolution that was adopted in February to be enforced and "demands" that the Assad regime engage in peace talks "in good faith, constructively and without pre-conditions."

"Outrageous violation”

The Syrian Government has warned that the airstrike will "inflame tensions in the world" while the country’s President Bashar al Assad has warned that

Yesterday Syrian President Bashar al Assad warned that the action will only increase his government's determination to continue what he described as his war against terrorism.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said the strikes will make the “already catastrophic humanitarian situation in Syria even worse in bringing suffering to civilians.”

"Carefully targeted"

Writing in the Sunday Telegraph this morning, Mr Johnson said the "carefully targeted and calibrated strikes" were not intended to "frustrate Russian strategic objectives".

"This does not represent any major escalation of UK or Western involvement in Syria - and we should have the courage to be honest about that," he wrote.

The UK foreign secretary set out what his Government believes is the legal justification for the raids, saying: "In degrading Assad's chemical weapons capabilities we intend to do what we can to protect his people from that specific form of cruelty.

"We may not end the barbarism - but we are telling the world that there is one type of barbarism that is banned and that deserves to be banned."

Parliamentary approval

The airstrikes have provoked political controversy, as Theresa May went ahead without parliamentary approval.

A Survation poll for the Mail on Sunday found 54% of voters believe the PM was wrong to order attacks without Parliament's consent, compared to 30% who backed her.

It also found 46% believed Mrs May was better than opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn on dealing with an international crisis.

She is due to face Parliament on Monday, when she will give a statement to the House explaining the moral and legal arguments for action.

Mr Corbyn is among the voices saying the PM should be accountable to Parliament and not Donald Trump or Emmanuel Macron.

With reporting from IRN ...