UK attacks Russian support for Syria regime after US airstrikes

The UK government has attacked Russia's role in alliance with the Syria regime as international tensions continue in the aftermath of the suspected chemical attack and retaliatory US airstrikes.

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has pulled out of a visit to Moscow saying "we deplore Russia's continued defence of the Assad regime".

Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon has said Russia is responsible for "every civilian death" in Bashar Assad's suspected sarin attack on his own people.

US President Donald Trump has meanwhile written to both chambers of Congress justifying his decision to launch the retaliation strikes.

US senator John McCain has told ITV News the US and its allies must add momentum to Mr Trump's intervention by working to force President Assad out.

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US 'disappointed' but not surprised by Russia criticism

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is scheduled to visit Moscow next week. Credit: AP

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has said he is "disappointed" in but not surprised by Russia's criticism of the US airstrikes on a Syrian airfield as an "act of aggression".

Mr Tillerson, who is scheduled to visit Moscow next week, was questioned on Russia's comments during a White House media briefing.

"I'm disappointed in (the Russian) response," he said. "Because it indicates their continued support for the Assad regime and, in particular, their continued support for a regime that carries out these type of horrendous attacks on their own people.

"So I find it very disappointing, but, sadly, I have to tell you, not all that surprising."

Russia's foreign ministry has said it expects Mr Tillerson to explain Washington's stance on the airstrikes during his visit, according to the Interfax news agency.

Miliband has no regrets on blocking Syria strikes in 2013

Ed Miliband led the crossbench rebellion against supporting US-led airstrikes on the Assad regime in 2013. Credit: PA

Ed Miliband has said the brutality of the Syrian civil war made him question his efforts to successfully block airstrikes against the Assad regime in 2013.

However the former Labour leader said he still concluded it was the "right thing to do".

Mr Miliband led a rebellion in 2013 against then-prime minister David Cameron's plans in response to chemical weapons attacks against civilians.

He was questioned over his stance on not intervening during an appearance on Channel 4 comedy show The Last Leg, hours after US President Donald Trump launched air strikes in Syria.

"The horrible scenes, ghastly scenes (of the conflict) obviously make me think about that," he said.

"I have thought a lot about it and whether it was the right thing to do but I think in the end, in my heart of hearts I do feel it was."

Mr Miliband said there was a lack of plan for the consequences of the strikes in 2013 and he feared Britain "being drawn into the Syrian civil war".

"The biggest lesson of the Iraq war was you don't send our forces into combat unless you know there is a clear plan," he said.


America acts on Syrian war after six long years

  • Video report by ITV News Correspondent Geraint Vincent

For six years, war has raged on in Syria, and America refused to act time and time again - despite President Obama setting out a "red line" of using chemical weapons in 2012.

One of the concerns was that the US would once again be dragged into another war like that in Iraq, which cost thousands of lives.

While the US says its stance has not changed, President Trump's actions suggest that the new administration is not willing to sit by and let things go as they have done before.

David Miliband: This is a war without end, without law

David Miliband has said that the war in Syria is not only without end, but without law, and urged "all those engaged in Syria" to ensure there is a peace plan that can "bring some hope to the Syrian people".

Speaking to ITV News, he stressed that it was "vital" to find the right combination of pressure and effective diplomacy to end the war as soon as possible.

He also added that Russia should be made to ensure that Syria does not have chemical weapons, saying: "The question to Russia is 'when are you going to ensure that you abide by your own commitments?'"

Talking about the atrocious attack which took many lives, he also added that any death is tragic and that killing citizens by "conventional" means is just as bad as using chemical weapons.

"It's absolutely essential that we don't get into a position where deaths by chemical weapons are somehow unacceptable but deaths by conventional weapons becomes acceptable," he said.

US Syrian strike condemned by some, welcomed by others

Opinion is divided over whether or not Donald Trump was right to attack a Syrian airbase suspected of launching chemical weapon attacks.

One of Assad's generals said that the move had "only helped terrorists", and Russia has condemned the move, saying Americans had been fooled into the attack.

Locals say they are grateful to the Americans, but that targeting just one airfield is not enough.

The fear now is that the Assad regime will only provoke him further into using more chemical weapons.


Haley: US prepared to take more action if necessary

Nikki Haley, US envoy to the UN, has said that the country's decision to launch strikes against Syrian air bases was "fully justified", and that it is prepared to take more action but hopes it won't be necessary.

She said that the move was to deter the country from using chemical weapons against its people again, saying: "Bashar al-Assad must never use chemical weapons again. Ever."

Haley also condemned Iran and Russia for their part in Syria, since Russia was "supposed to have removed all the chemical weapons in Syria".

"Every time Assad has crossed the line of human decency, Russia has stood beside him," she said. "The world is waiting for the Russian government to act responsibly in Syria."

Russia calls US action in Syria 'an act of aggression'

Russia's deputy UN envoy speaks to the UN Security Council Credit: APTN

The Russian Federation deputy envoy to the UN said that America's actions in Syria are a "flagrant violation of international law and an act of aggression".

At UN security council meeting on Friday, he said that Russia "strongly condemns the illegitimate action" by the US in Syria, referring to strikes launched by the US against Syrian air bases.

He also warned that the consequences of such an action could be "extremely serious", and accused the US of undermining recent progress in UN-led Syrian peace talks.

British UN envoy backs US strikes on 'war criminal' Assad

Matthew Rycroft said Assad 'humiliates Russia' by intensifying its attacks. Credit: ITV News

The British envoy to the UN has said the UK supports the US airstrikes against the forces of "war criminal" Bashar Assad.

Matthew Rycroft hailed the military action which he said had put the Syrian President "on notice" as he spoke at the UN security council today.

He also criticised key Syrian ally Russia for vetoing on seven previous UN resolutions against the Assad regime.

Without Moscow's determination to shield the regime, Assad would have already faced sanctions and justice, he said.

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