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Middle East

UK agencies give their verdict on Damascus chemical weapons attack

See below for links to the full documents which are set to be the basis for this afternoon's crucial debate on the Middle East crisis

The Bashar al-Assad regime was “highly likely” to have been responsible for a chemical weapons attack in Syria, and the UK could fire upon military targets even if the UN Security Council blocks action, according to official documents released today.

The Government has released in full both its legal advice on a potential cruise missile strike, and the findings of the Joint Intelligence Committee which has  

A Downing Street spokeswoman said: “Today we have laid in the library of the House information on what we know about the attack in Damascus last week and the Government's position on the legality of any military action in response.

“This reflects the PM's commitment to build a consensual approach and to ensure that MPs can properly consider the issues before voting on the UK response.”


The Joint Intelligence Committee report

Read the letter to the Prime Minister in full here

• “The judgment of the Joint Intelligence Committee is that a chemical weapons attack did occur in Damascus last week”

• “It is highly likely that the Syrian regime was responsible”

• “There is no credible intelligence or other evidence to substantiate the claims or the possession of chemical weapons by the opposition


Chemical weapon use by Syrian regime: the UK government legal position

Read the full Government publication here

• “The large-scale use of chemical weapons by the regime in a heavily populated area on 21 August 2013 is a war crime”

• “It is likely that the regime will seek to use such weapons again”

• “If action in the UN Security Council is blocked, the UK would still be permitted under international law to take exceptional measures to alleviate the scale of the overwhelming humanitarian catastrophe in Syria”