Following Prime Minister Theresa May’s decision to authorise British Forces to join the United States and France in carrying out limited airstrikes in Syria, Rachel has issued the following response:

“In response to the chemical attacks on civilians in Douma, an alliance of the UK, USA & France has initiated air strikes to target the Syrian regime’s ability to create and use chemical weapons – breaking international rules.

“This limited air attack against specific targets is a proportionate, legal and humanitarian response.

“The Government, based on extensive briefings from our security services, is clear who is responsible for the atrocity, and no other group could have carried out this attack.

“While no-one wants to send our armed forces to war, and it is an extremely grave matter with many consequences, the Government’s first duty is to protect its citizens. Therefore I back our Prime Minister’s considered, proportionate and measured actions, for the following reasons.

“International law permits us to take measures to alleviate overwhelming human suffering provided three conditions are met:

“One, Convincing evidence, generally accepted by the international community, of extreme humanitarian distress on a large scale requiring immediate and urgent relief.

“Two, It must be objectively clear that there is no practicable alternative to the use of force if lives are to be saved.

“Three, Proposed used of force must be necessary and proportionate to the aim of relief of humanitarian suffering and must be strictly limited in time and scope to this aim (i.e., minimum necessary to achieve that end and for no other purpose).

“These criteria are met in this case.

“The OPCW inspectors have investigated previous attacks on four occasions and have decided that the Regime was indeed responsible.

“On each occasion where we have seen every sign of chemical weapons being used, any attempt to hold the perpetrators to account has been blocked by Russia at the UN Security Council, with six such vetoes since the start of 2017. Only this week, the Russians vetoed a draft Resolution that would have established an independent investigation into this latest attack- even making the grotesque and absurd claim that it was “staged” by Britain.

“Despite pledges made in the past by Syria that they would dismantle their chemical weapons programme, backed by promises from the Russians to ensure they did this, overseen by the OPCW, they have not met these commitments.

“Nevertheless this matter will be certainly debated in Parliament when we return on Monday and I shall be in the House of Commons to hear further details from the Prime Minister.”