UK national security council gives green light on Syria action

British Prime Minister David Cameron: World must not stand by.

tomahawk missile launch 370 (photo credit: REUTERS)
tomahawk missile launch 370
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Western nations on Wednesday seemed to draw ever closer to military action against Syria over the regime's use of chemical weapons against its own population. British Prime Minister David Cameron said Wednesday that his National Security Council had unanimously backed such a step, 24 hours after he made the case for a targeted strike..
"The NSC (National Security Council) agreed unanimously that the use of chemical weapons by Assad was unacceptable - and the world should not stand by," Cameron said on his official Twitter feed after a meeting of the high-level security body.
Cameron had ordered British parliament to reconvene on Tuesday for a crisis meeting to be held on Thursday, when members will debate and ultimately vote on an appropriate response to the use of chemical weapons by Syrian President Bashar Assad against his own people in the Damascus suburb of Ghouta last week.
Britain's national security will be undermined if it fails to challenge the Syrian government over the use of chemical weapons against its own people, British Foreign Secretary William Hague said on Wednesday.
In an article published before Prime Minister David Cameron chairs Britain's National Security Council to finalize recommendations for a possible military response against Syria, Hague said the risks of doing nothing were too great.
"We must proceed in a careful and thoughtful way, but we cannot permit our own security to be undermined by the creeping normalization of the use of weapons that the world has spent decades trying to control and eradicate," Hague wrote in Britain's Daily Telegraph newspaper.
Opposition party leader Ed Miliband told the BBC on Tuesday that Cameron could count on his party's support if specific conditions are agreed to.
"When I saw the prime minister, I said that we, the Labour Party, would consider supporting international action," Miliband said, "but only on the basis that it was legal, that it was specifically limited to deterring the future use of chemical weapons, and that any action contemplated had clear and achievable military goals."
Earlier on Wednesday, US President Barack Obama discussed a possible military intervention in Syria with Cameron, the BBC reported.
Citing a Downing Street spokesman, the BBC reported that both leaders agreed a chemical attack in Syria had taken place, perpetrated by Syrian President Bashar Assad.
"The Prime Minister confirmed that the government had not yet taken a decision on the specific nature of our response, but that it would be legal and specific to the chemical weapons attack," the spokesman told the BBC.
Meanwhile, Australia, a close ally of the United States, is due to take over the UN security council on Sunday, a role that requires it to assist council members to reach agreement. They have also endorsed a possible retaliation against Syria
Foreign Minister Bob Carr said that if it was proved the Syrian regime had used chemical weapons, the world had a mandate to respond.
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper is also on board with a US led military strike on Syria in response to chemical weapons claims. "Both leaders agreed that significant use of chemical weapons merits a firm response from the international community in an effective and timely manner," Harper's spokesman, Andrew MacDougall said in a statement.
Meanwhile, Germany on Wednesday urged states, especially Russia, to support a British draft resolution to the UN Security Council condemning attacks by Syrian President Bashar Assad and authorizing 'necessary measures' to protect civilians.
"We welcome the British initiative to get the UN Security Council to again consider the use of chemical weapons in Syria. We urge all members of the Security Council, in particular Russia, to seize this opportunity and contribute to a common stance by the global community against the use of chemical weapons of mass destruction in Syria," Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said.
The French parliament has announced it will hold an extraordinary session on Wednesday to discuss the situation in Syria, government spokeswoman Najat Vallaud-Belkacem said.
"The president has taken the decision to summon parliament on Wednesday to assess the situation in Syria," she said following a cabinet meeting.
President Francois Hollande said on Tuesday that parliament would be informed as soon as possible about decisions on any action in Syria.
Turkey has put its armed forces on alert to guard against threats from Syria as Western allies weigh military action against the Syrian regime, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said on Wednesday.
"We are now at a more alert position ... Turkey will take whatever measures necessary within the framework of its own strategic interests," Davutoglu told reporters.
"The Turkish armed forces have the mandate to take every measure against any security threat from Syria or elsewhere ... and retaliate within the rules of engagement."