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MP: SYRIA IS A TINDER BOX

Conservative Party PortraitsThe Island’s MP,Andrew Turner, has today (Tuesday) made public his strong opposition to missile strikes on Syria following the use of  chemical weapons in Damascus last week. 

Both the Syrian Government led by President Assad and rebels fighting to overthrow the Assad Regime have blamed each other for the attacks which led to the deaths of at least 355 people.  In recent days there have been media reports that the Prime Minister David Cameron is preparing to launch missile attacks against the Assad regime

Mr Turner was one of 15 Conservative MPs who voted against going to war in Iraq in 2001; he has previously opposed arming the Syrian rebels as he believes that there can be no guarantees where they may end up.  The experience of Iraq shows that weapons supplied by the West can end up being used against our forces.  The Shadow Foreign Secretary Rt Hon Douglas Alexander MP conceded this morning on Radio 4’s This Morning programme that we must learn the lessons from Iraq.

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Speaking today, Mr Turner said:

“Syria is a volatile tinder-box of violence.  A single spark could set the whole region ablaze – and it could have unanticipated consequences in the wider world.  Yesterday the Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, set out the Russian position; that the use of military force against Assad without UN approval would be a ‘grave violation of international law’ and described it as a ‘very dangerous’ and ‘very slippery path’.  There could hardly be a clearer warning that this situation has the potential to escalate into a global conflict. I believe that there are circumstances where UK forces may be justified in acting in our national interest without UN approval – but the situation in Syria certainly does not meet those criteria at the moment.

“If the case for military action is so strong that our Government believes we must get involved then Parliament must be recalled so that the Prime Minister can make the case to MPs and to the country.  What happened in Damascus was terrible; but we need to be sure of the facts and what the objectives of intervention are.  We also need to know what resources would be needed and how we would plan to deal with any wider consequences.  At the moment I am not convinced that any of those questions have been answered satisfactorily.”

At 10:00 this morning, Downing Street confirmed armed forces are drawing up contingency plans for military action in Syria.

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