UK, US and France call for Syria ceasefire in wake of airstrikes

The three allies are calling for an independent investigation into the use of chemical weapons

UK, US and France call for Syria ceasefire in wake of airstrikes

Syrians raise a big Syrian national flag in Damascus' eastern Douma district, 14-04-2018. Image: Ammar Safarjalani/Xinhua News Agency/PA Images

The UK, France and the US are pushing for an independent investigation into allegations that Syrian Government forces are using chemical weapons – a day after launching air strikes on the war-torn country.

The three allies have circulated a joint draft resolution at the United Nations Security Council.

The plan would see the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons instructed to report back within 30 days on whether President Bashar al Assad's government has fully disclosed its chemical weapons stockpile.

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."

The allies are also demanding medical evacuations and the safe passage for aid convoys to all areas of Syria.

Airstrikes

The three countries launched over 100 missiles in a coordinated operation targeting the Syrian Government’s chemical weapons capabilities in the early hours of Saturday morning.

The EU has backed the move, ordered in response to last Saturday’s alleged chemical attack on the city of Douma in the in the Eastern Ghouta countryside outside Damascus.

after the strikes, US President Donald Trump said the “evil and despicable” chemical attack had “left mothers and fathers, infants and children trashing in pain and gasping for air.”

Syrian allies, Iran and Russia have condemned the action, with Russia's foreign minister Sergei Lavrov insisting the chemical attack was staged, and claiming the West can't prove otherwise.

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

Here at home, the government is being urged to condemn the air strikes.

People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett has described them as a 'very dangerous escalation of the conflict':

"I think our own Government and anybody with any sense would condemn these strike on Syria as a very dangerous escalation of an already scary and disastrous conflict in syria," he said.

"Bombing and missiles will not solve the horrendous situation that has caused so much damage to the lives of so many Syrian people over the last number of years."

UN talks

Negotiations on the draft resolution are set to begin on Monday, but diplomats remain unclear when the UN Security Council would vote on the proposal.

Western diplomats have said they were ready to allow time for negotiations to make every effort to bring Russia aboard.

Russia has used its veto 12 times at the Security Council to block action targeting its Syrian ally.

It comes after the US, UK and French launched strikes on three sites linked to Syria's chemical weapons programme.

“Agression”

On Saturday, the UN Security Council overwhelmingly rejected a Russian resolution calling for condemnation of "aggression" by the three allies.

Only China and Bolivia voted in favour, while three other countries abstained. A resolution needs nine 'yes' votes to be passed.

The US has said it is "locked and loaded" for further strikes if the Syrian regime uses poisonous gas again.

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said Britain had a duty to show that Syria had not "got away with it" and it was standing up against Assad's "barbarism."

In an article for The Sunday Telegraph, he said: "Unless we act there is a risk of moral contamination, a coarsening and corruption of what we have until now thought to be acceptable."

“Legally questionable”

The British government also published its legal position on the airstrikes after opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn warned the military action was "legally questionable."

The Government said the UK is allowed under international law "on an exceptional basis" to take measures to end "overwhelming humanitarian suffering" if certain conditions have been met.

British Prime Minister Theresa May will face questions from MPs on Monday, when parliament reconvenes after a break.

With reporting from IRN ...