Syria crisis: David Cameron defends 'strong stance' over chemical weapon attack

PM says proposal by Russia to send inspectors to seize arms would not have happened without the determination to stand up to Assad regime

David Cameron has defended the “strong stance” taken by the UK and US in response to the use of chemical weapons in Syria, claiming international pressure had led to a potential diplomatic breakthrough.

The Prime Minister said the proposal from Russia for international inspectors to seize and destroy chemical weapons in Syria would not have happened without the determination to stand up to Bashar al-Assad.

Barack Obama is conditionally endorsing the Russian offer, but insisted that US forces remained prepared to launch a strike if necessary.

Mr Cameron told MPs the development was a "vindication" of the "determination to stand up to chemical weapons use".

"We would not be in this position of pursuing new avenues of getting Syrian chemical weapons out of Syria and destroyed unless a strong stance had been taken," he said.

In response to Respect's George Galloway at Prime Minister's Questions, Mr Cameron added: "That is the right answer, not crawling up to dictators and telling them how wonderful they are."

Mr Galloway said that without Mr Cameron's defeat on the issue in the Commons "Britain and the United States would already be in the midst of what, it has turned out, would have been a wholly unnecessary war".

In a television address to the US, president Obama said he had asked congressional leaders to delay a vote on a resolution authorising limited military strikes, giving time to pursue the Russian plan and avoiding a potential humiliating defeat.

Speaking from the White House, Mr Obama admitted the prospect of a prolonged military campaign was unpopular with many and said: "I will not put American boots on the ground in Syria.

"I will not pursue an open-ended action like Iraq or Afghanistan. I will not pursue a prolonged air campaign like Libya or Kosovo.

"This will be a targeted strike to achieve a clear objective - deter the use of chemical weapons and degrading Assad's capabilities.

"A targeted strike can make Assad - or any other dictator - think twice about using chemical weapons."

President Obama said he had long resisted calls for military action in Syria because he did not believe force could solve the civil war.

But he said he changed his mind after the chemical weapons attack in Damascus on August 21.

Describing the images of death as "sickening", Mr Obama said: "On that terrible night, the world saw in gruesome detail the terrible nature of chemical weapons and why the overwhelming majority of humanity has declared them off-limits - a crime against humanity and a violation of the laws of war.

"On August 21, these basic rules were violated, along with our sense of common humanity."

Mr Obama said he was continuing discussions with Vladimir Putin, while dispatching secretary of state John Kerry to meet his Russian counterpart. He said the US would continue its "diplomatic path" to remove weapons without the use of force, with congress postponing a vote on authorising military action.

Mr Obama said he was also speaking to Mr Cameron and French leader Francois Hollande and would work with Russia and China to put forward a resolution at the United Nations Security Council requiring Assad to give up his chemical weapons.

The president said the United States could not be the "world's policeman", but added that the nation could save Syrian children from being gassed to death.

He said: "Sometimes resolutions and statements of condemnation are simply not enough.

"What kind of world will we live in if the United States of America sees a dictator brazenly violate international law with poison gas and we choose to look the other way?

"Our ideals and principles, as well as our national security, are at stake in Syria.

"It is beyond our means to right every wrong. But when, with modest effort and risk, we can stop children from being gassed to death and thereby make our own children safer over the long run, I believe we should act."

PA

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
musicBand's first new record for 20 years has some tough acts to follow
News
Shoppers in Covent Garden, London, celebrate after they were the first to buy the iPhone 6, released yesterday
tech
News
Liam Payne has attacked the media for reporting his tweet of support to Willie Robertson and the subsequent backlash from fans
peopleBut One Direction star insists he is not homophobic
Life and Style
healthFor Pure-O OCD sufferers this is a reality they live in
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvSeries 5 opening episode attracts lowest ratings since drama began
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Trainee / Experienced Recruitment Consultants

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40,000: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 ...

Science Teacher

£6720 - £33600 per annum: Randstad Education Nottingham: We are currently recr...

Supply teachers needed in Wigan!

£12000 - £24000 per annum: Randstad Education Manchester Secondary: Due to the...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Soho

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40000: SThree: As a Recruitment Consultant, y...

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments