'More war will not save life': Jeremy Corbyn urges May and Trump to stand down over Syria

The Labour leader said there should be a ceasefire and a political solution to the war instead of further military action

Joe Watts
Political Editor
Thursday 12 April 2018 12:49
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Jeremy Corbyn condemns Donald Trump's rhetoric on Syria: 'More war will not save life'

Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn has urged the Prime Minister and Donald Trump to pull back from military action in Syria arguing that “more war will not save life”.

He warned that deploying forces in the war-torn Middle Eastern state would lead to further conflict elsewhere in the region, and called for a “real ceasefire and a political process”.

Speaking on a trip to Derby, Mr Corbyn appeared to suggest he would not back war under any circumstances, arguing that he is “not in favour of increasing military action”.

It comes as Theresa May, the US President and French President Emmanuel Macron were poised to launch military strikes on Syrian targets, following a further chemical weapons attack in Syria that has been blamed on the regime of Bashar al-Assad.

Mr Corbyn said that what had happened in the town of Douma, where 40 people were killed following an attack on Saturday, was “disgraceful” and that any use of chemical weapons is “clearly illegal as well as immoral and wrong”.

But he went on: “More bombing, more killing, more war will not save life. It will just take more lives and spawn the war elsewhere.”

Mr Corbn said: “The United Nations has a duty and a function to ensure there's a proper investigation undertaken as the inspectors are now in Douma doing just that and, when we've got the results of that, decide what action to take.

Syria crisis: Theresa May to chair emergency Cabinet meeting

“But, I would just say this. Hundreds of thousands have died and lost their lives in Syria. Millions have been forced into refuge. Many are living in terrible poverty and desperation. There has to be a political solution.”

He called for Russia, America, the EU, Iran and Saudi Arabia to be involved in ensuring a ceasefire and a political solution to the seven-year civil war.

Mr Macron conducted interviews on Thursday morning saying that there is now proof that chemical were used in Syria by the Assad regime.

But asked whether he opposed military action in Syria under any circumstances, Mr Corbyn said: "I'm not in favour of increasing military action in Syria, what I'm in favour of is a political process to bring about peace."

The Labour Leader added: "Assad should be dealt with by international law; by sanctions, if necessary; by the United Nations, but, also, by pressure from those countries that have supported him and those countries that have supported the opposition – to halt the conflict, to bring about a solution that does recognise the rights of the diversity of the people in Syria.

“The Kurdish people and others have got to have their say in how this process works out."

Former MI6 boss Sir John Sawers condemns Donald Trump's Twitter diplomacy with Russia amid Syria crisis

Ms May is due to meet her Cabinet later today to discuss potential military action by UK forces, with Royal Navy attack submarines already said to have moved into position in the Mediterranean Sea.

But Mr Corbyn again demanded that MPs be consulted over any potential attack prior to its launch.

He said: "Parliament must be consulted on this. Surely the lessons of Iraq, the lessons that came there from the Chilcott Report, are that there's got to be, there has to be a proper process of consultation.

"We elect Parliament, we elect Members of Parliament. They should have a voice in this. Cabinet on its own should not be making this decision.”

General Richard Barons on Russia's claim it will shoot down US missiles fired at Syria: 'That is war'

He said the dangers of bombing Syria are that it would escalate the conflict “beyond belief”, raising the prospect of US and Russian forces inflicting damage on each other and bringing about the possibility of the two superpowers becoming more deeply engaged.

With tension rising on Wednesday, Russia’s ambassador to Lebanon, Alexander Zasypkinhad, warned that his country would shoot down US rockets fired at Syrian targets, and would even fire on “the sources that launched the missiles” – raising the prospect of direct engagement between US and Russian forces.

In a tweet responding to the threat, President Trump said: “Russia vows to shoot down any and all missiles fired at Syria.

“Get ready, Russia, because they will be coming, nice and new and ‘smart’. You shouldn’t be partners with a Gas Killing Animal who kills his people and enjoys it!”

Downing Street sources said the Cabinet meeting – unusual during a parliamentary break – represented the “next phase” of Ms May’s approach to the crisis, following her conversations with Mr Trump, Mr Macron and national security officials.

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