The action we have taken with our American and French allies is limited, targeted and essential to degrade Assad’s chemical weapons capability and deter the use of chemical weapons in Syria and around the world.
It is not about regime change or intervening in a civil war. It is about alleviating further humanitarian suffering and strengthening the international norm prohibiting the use of chemical weapons.
The action was agreed by the Cabinet after considering advice from the Attorney General and the National Security Council, and after being updated on the assessment and intelligence picture.
Based on the Regime’s persistent pattern of behaviour and the cumulative analysis of specific incidents we judge it highly likely both that the Syrian regime has continued to use chemical weapons, and will continue to do so. This risks further humanitarian catastrophe and we will not stand by in the face of such wilful human destruction or the flagrant disregard for international law.
Our view is that the use of military force as a last resort was necessary and proportionate in order to alleviate human suffering. It is on these grounds that the action is legally justifiable.
It was necessary to strike with speed so we could allow our Armed Forces to act decisively, maintain the vital security of their operations, and protect the security and interests of the UK.
There is no plausible alternative. Since 2013, the UN has been blocked by Russia from acting against the use of chemical weapons by Assad. According to the Office for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, Syria has not kept its promise to dismantle its chemical weapons programme.
Although of a much lower order of magnitude, the use of nerve agent on the streets of the UK in recent weeks is part of this pattern of disregard for international norms, and the prohibition of the use of chemical weapons which have stood for nearly a century.
We must take action to reverse the erosion of these norms – we cannot allow this to continue. And we are clear that any military action cannot stand alone: it needs to be part of a wider diplomatic effort to strengthen the global norms prohibiting the use of chemical weapons.