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Syria strikes send 'clear message' on chemical weapons: British PM

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Fighter jets were seen taking off from a British Royal Air Force base in Cyprus early on Saturday

But she will say the UK joined the United States and France in co-ordinated strikes following the chemical weapons attack in Douma to "alleviate further humanitarian suffering".

The prime minister added the military assault was not about regime change, toppling Assad or intervening further in the war.

May's government has insisted the punitive strikes were legal, releasing a statement that said they were aimed at alleviating the "extreme humanitarian suffering" of the Syrian people by reducing the chemical weapons capabilities of President Bashar al-Assad's regime.

"This action risks not just further escalating the civil war in Syria but also a risky escalation of worldwide tensions", said the leader of the left-wing Scottish National Party, the third-biggest force in the British parliament.

Lawmakers backed action in Iraq in 2014, and again in Syria in 2015, strictly limiting strikes in both countries to targets of the Islamic State jihadist group.

Mr Johnson, speaking at a summit of European Union foreign ministers, stressed it was "not an attempt to change the tide of the war in Syria or to have regime change" and "the Syrian war in many ways will go on in its frightful, miserable way".

Britain has blamed Russian Federation for the poisoning - a charge vehemently denied by Moscow which has accused London of failing to come up with evidence for its claims.

Downing Street yesterday published the government's legal position, which said the attacks were permitted under worldwide law after the deaths of 400,000 people in the conflict.

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"Very careful scientific analysis was applied to determine where best to target the Storm Shadows to maximise the destruction of the stockpiled chemicals and to minimise any risks of contamination to the surrounding area".

She added that she would address parliament on Monday.

Stewart McDonald of the Scottish National Party said: "The PM has engaged United Kingdom forces in gesture bombing, with no major worldwide consensus and no long term plan to halt the use of chemical weapons or deliver peace".

However, Theresa May has faced sharp criticism from other politicians for the UK's role in the bombing, with Labour opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn questioning its legality.

"It is in our national interest to prevent the further use of chemical weapons in Syria - and to uphold and defend the global consensus that these weapons should not be used".

May is not obliged to win parliament's approval, but a non-binding constitutional convention to do so has been established since a 2003 vote on joining the US -led invasion of Iraq. "All the indications are that the Syrian regime was responsible".

"Bombing can not substitute for diplomacy", he said.

He reiterated that Canada condemns the use of chemical weapons in Ghouta.

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