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tv   BBC News  BBC News  April 14, 2018 8:00pm-8:31pm BST

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this is bbc news. the headlines at 8pm: president trump declares mission accomplished, saying missile strikes against syria by the us, britain and france were perfectly executed. we are prepared to sustain this response until the syrian regime stops its use of prohibited chemical agents. four british tornado jets were involved in the attacks. theresa may said the use of force was legal and right. we cannot allow the use of chemical weapons to become normalised either within syria, on the streets of the uk or elsewhere. parliament should be consulted and allowed to take a view on this but instead strikes were launched last night. at the united nations, russia says the attacks were a blatant violation of international law. and president assad says it's an act of aggression which will make him more determined to fight his opponents.
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good evening and welcome to bbc news. president trump has declared "mission accomplished" following overnight military strikes by the us, the uk and france on suspected chemical weapons sites in syria. mr trump said the action was taken in response to a chemical attack on civilians in douma last week — and described it as the use of "righteous power against barbarism and brutality". the pentagon said the targets were a chemical weapons research unit in damascus, and two storage facilities and a command post near the city of homs. syria's denounced the attacks but said they caused limited damage. here, the prime minister said
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the action should serve as a warning to syria and its ally russia against the use of chemical weapons. but russia's ambassador to the un told a meeting of the security council that the missile strikes were an illegal act of aggression. here's our north america editorjon sopel. from a french warship in the eastern mediterranean to a british raf base in cyprus to the uss monterey in the red sea, days of planning was replaced by execution, with the bombing and missile strikes. the president said britain, france and the us had marshalled their "righteous power against barbarism and brutality." a short time ago, i ordered the united states armed forces to launch precision strikes on targets associated with the chemical weapons
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capabilities of syrian dictator bashar al—assad. and he singled out syria's two principal backers. to iran and to russia, i ask, what kind of nation wants to be associated with the mass murder of innocent men, women and children? the nations of the world can be judged by the friends they keep. in damascus last night, flashes, bangs and streaking missiles lit the night sky. those launching the attack seemed as keen to define what this mission wasn't as what it was. this is not about intervening in the civil war. it is not about regime change. it is about a limited and targeted strike that does not further escalate tensions in the region and that does everything possible to prevent civilian casualties.
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daylight reveals the extent of the destruction. this is all that's left of the scientific research centre near damascus, one of the targets that took the greatest pounding. at a pentagon briefing this morning, the defence chief said all targets had been hit with no casualties suffered. we are still conducting a more detailed damage assessment, the initial indications are that we accomplished our military objectives without interference from syria. i use three words to describe this operation, precise, overwhelming and effective. but in damascus this morning, regime supporters were celebrating a success in repelling american aggression. perhaps more accurately, this strike was more limited than they'd anticipated. from a government spokesman, defiance. translation: this aggression will only increase our determination to defend our sovereignty, national security and the security of our citizens. this apparently is president assad
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strolling to work today, although we don't see a close—up of his face. if he is able to walk tall, it's only because of the support he is receiving from the russians. today at the un they turned theirfire on britain, france and the us. translation: the us and its allies continued to demonstrate blatant disregard for international law. they must be especially firm in protecting the un charter. in douma, the site of the chemical weapons attack, the syrian army are in control and awaiting the weapons inspectors. the americans are saying it'sjob done. but now the world waits to see if there will be retaliation or any further use of chemical weapons, because if there is then this will be far from over. jon sopel, bbc news, washington. well, russia has failed to win the backing of the un security council for its condemnation of those missile strikes. our moscow correspondent, steve rosenberg, explained just how
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deep the rhetoric was getting from the kremlin. moscow is the biggest backer of president assad so it is not surprising that the language coming out of moscow was pretty hard they were not going to mince their words. they have been so strong. vladimir putin was talking about an act of aggression, unlawful, unacceptable said sergei lavrov the own minister and a senior russian to said america was acting like a school bully. in this geopolitical school bully. in this geopolitical school playground there is lots of shouting and shadow—boxing behind the bicycle sheds but crucially it does not come to a fight between russia and america. neither want to go to war over syria and we know because the us ambassador in moscow said said today that before the strike the two sides took measures to try to keep out of each other‘s
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way during this strike. of course syria is a crowded theatre of war and the danger of this conflict spreading and growing still exists. the prime minister theresa may says the raids sent a clear signal that the use of chemical weapons would not be tolerated and she said it had been "right and legal" to take action. but the labour leaderjeremy corbyn has called the strikes legally questionable. with more then on the reaction here in the uk, here's our political editor laura kuenssberg. 2am at home. 4am at the target. raf jets take off to strike at assad's regime. by 9am in number ten the prime minister emerged to explain her case. there is no graver decision for a prime minister than to commit our forces to combat. and this is the first time that i've had to do so.
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we cannot allow the use of chemical weapons to become normalised. either within syria, on the streets of the uk, or elsewhere. not just a punishment for president assad, but about a wider principle, too. this was not about interfering in a civil war, and it was not about regime change. it was a limited, targeted and effective strike with clear boundaries. we must reinstate the global consensus that chemical weapons cannot be used. this action is absolutely in britain's national interest. the lesson of history is that when the global rules and standards that keep us safe come under threat we must take a stand and defend them. will you do the same again if president assad does the same again? as you have suggested he has. and do you feel you have the public‘s consent, given you have not even consulted mps in parliament?
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we believe the action was successful, but the syrian regime should be under no doubt of our resolve in relation to this matter of the use of chemical weapons. and i have taken this decision because i believe it is the right thing to do. ministers‘ legal advice justifies the strikes as an exceptional measure to alleviate humanitarian distress by degrading the syrian regime's chemical weapons capability and deterring future attacks. yet without explicit un backing, the labour leader believes the strikes might not be legal. the consequences of any country taking unilateral and action that has no legal base, it's an encouragement for others to do exactly the same and reduces our ability to complain when others do that. surely the united nations exists for a purpose. the prime minister will face questions from mps on monday, but no firm plans for a vote.
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mps have been powerless all week to hold the government accountable on this, and for us to have to wait another two days after the event really is not good enough. there are major questions, major doubts. is this a one—off or is it a continuing operation? how much control do we have of what the americans are doing? we've got a very erratic american president who changes his position from one day to the next. this was not intended to end the war in syria, not part of an effort to remove assad. but the prime minister wants these attacks to be seen as a clear and grave reprimand to a country suspected of using chemical weapons. an effort to force respect of the decades old rule that such weapons are illegal and must not be used. but while theresa may's decision to act was in her gift, what happens next may well not be. the prime minister may hope her decisions have a straightforward outcome.
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but the political fall—out may not be clean. this afternoon, the government published its legal position on military action, saying it was justified on humanitarian grounds. international law requires three conditions to be met. first, convincing evidence, generally accepted by the international community as a whole, of extreme humanitarian distress on a large scale, requiring immediate and urgent relief. second, it must be objectively clear there is no practicable alternative to the use of force if lives are to be saved. and the proposed use of force must be necessary and proportionate to the aim of relief of humanitarian suffering, and must be strictly limited in time and in scope to this aim. we have all been trying to get our heads around international law including our little correspondent
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ben wright. but downing street are basically staying is a needed to do this quickly and swiftly to save lives. exactly right. the use of chemical weapons is an obvious and clear breach of international law. it is banned. that is incontrovertible. the uk additionally have said it was imperative in this instance to act quickly to try and save for their lives because there is a good chance that chemical weapons could be used again as they have been used several times already. you run through the criteria the attorney general put in his opinion that he submitted to the prime minister is justification for taking this action. i think that as he had said it was in his view proportionate, there were no other options and the evidence of chemical weapon used was clear. i think the uk is fairly alone among major world powers in using this humanitarian justification for military action. that is the same justification that the uk used to get involved in
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kosovo, pretty much is at your same legal opinion that david cameron put before the house of commons in 2013 when he tried to get mps to improve military action against president assad then the use of chemical weapons but i don't think this is the justification being weapons but i don't think this is thejustification being put forward by paris or washington. this is the uk argument for why this needs to happen and i think it is something that the uk in whitehall have wanted to get up and running as a liberal president, they think this gives down the cover butjeremy corbyn still has doubts and he argues that the legal position for the government is questionable and that will remain the crux of his criticism of the next few days. theresa may in the dock on monday in parliament. how much anger and frustration is he likely to face from her own and opposition? difficult to know because she has responded militarily to the use of chemical weapons and there is no mp in the commons that will have been
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unmoved by the pictures that everybody has seen. there is widespread cross—party revulsion at what happened so i think that will temper some of the contributions. there is no i think and this applies to people, labour or even tory mps who think this action was justified, i think there is concern that the convention that had been established over the last 15 years was that parliament should be consulted before military action but that has been put to one side bid theresa may in this instance and they think that will cause a lot of concern. she will cause a lot of concern. she will be asked about it and she will come under some very tough questioning. she is also going to be as clearly what happens next. this is no studied. the president in terms of action in return to these chemical weapons has been said by the government. will it continue to respond because of their art for the uses of chemical weapons by president assad? what if any will and have a voice? we have no a nswe rs. and have a voice? we have no answers. does she have to put it before parliament, taking action? not at all. the government can use
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royal prerogative powers. that has been the case through history. the falklands did not require a vote and career didn't but since 2003 and the iraq war, they go to parliament. in 2011 david cameron went and got approval after agreeing to air strikes against colonel gaddafi in libya but it seems theresa may is breaking the convention we have become used to over the last ten yea rs 01’ become used to over the last ten years 01’ so. become used to over the last ten years or so. becky. let's get the latest now from our correspondent barbara plett usher in washington. what has the reaction been in washington? thinking the foreign policy community and amongst lawmakers generally there was sporting the idea of striking a strike against chemical weapons facilities in order to deter the use of these agents again ulster but there has been criticism from some lawmakers saying that the president
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should have consulted congress burst. more broadly than that there has been quite a lot of criticism about what next? using this strike to say a strike is not a strategy. the president should have taken this opportunity to lay out the more long—term vision of what he wants. 0n the one hand although he said this has been a sustained campaign to prevent president aside from using chemical weapons again which suggested there might be more military strikes, he also repeated his desire to get out of syria is could be as possible. the americans have a contingent in the north—east of the country where they have been fighting islamic state and recently the illustration, the pentagon and state department have said we will keep those military presence there for no so we can prevent ice is from coming back but also so that we can have some sort of empires on the future of the country otherwise iran and russia will decide that on their
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own together with the syrian regime which is winning the war but president trump hasn't indicated and in patients with that approach and wa nts to in patients with that approach and wants to get the american presence at quickly. strikers given the opportunity to feel that is wrong approach to say you need to have a broader view of how america is going to have some sort of impact on this region and deal with this work. anger and frustration ended among many at the un security council meeting but when it comes to diplomacy it seems to be in deadlock. 0ne diplomacy it seems to be in deadlock. one wonders what the un can actually do and whether diplomacy can never come in handy 110w diplomacy can never come in handy now when it comes to syria. diplomacy can never come in handy now when it comes to syrialj diplomacy can never come in handy now when it comes to syria. i don't think the un can do anything because the security council is deeply divided on this and the permanent representatives have the ability to be to positions they don't want and the russians are in deadlock with western countries on this so i think the debates we have been seeing in the debates we have been seeing in the past few days have just illustrated how deep those divisions are and therefore how difficult it
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is with the un backed process, the political process trying to come to a solution to the conflict that was supposed to be taking place in geneva just shows how unlikely it is to come up with a solution whatever lip service might be paid to it at this point. the reality is there are a separate political negotiations going on with iran and russia alongside turkey and they are the ones who are beginning to set out the contours of how they see syria should be the future of syria, and they are the supporters of the regime, soi they are the supporters of the regime, so i don't think this strike changes any of that. it has nothing to change the balance of power in syria and everyone is quite clear about that and therefore it doesn't doa about that and therefore it doesn't do a thing to change the diplomatic impasse at the moment. thank you for that. as you heard barbara saying last night? strike does appear to have been very clearly targeted but they are being seen as a limited punishment on syria. so what impact will they have
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on syria's chemical weapons programme? and what do they say about the strategy of america, britain and france? here's our diplomatic correspondent james robbins. this is what provoked the strikes, last saturday's apparent gas attack on civilians in douma. britain, france and the united states are convinced this was the latest in a long line of assad's chemical attacks and had to be punished. so what was achieved? the strikes sent a deliberate, precise, if limited message to president assad, "you are not the target — your chemical weapons programme is." the united states fired missiles from two warships and from the submarine uss john warner, plus in the air, two b—1 lancer bombers. the raf flew tornadoes from akrotiri in cyprus, staying out of syrian airspace to fire their storm shadow missiles. and france launched missiles from its frigate, languedoc, as well as rafale and mirage strike aircraft flying from france. so, the us was not acting alone, but with two close allies this time, and that is politically important. the targets of all this firepower?
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syria's chemical weapons production. the main target for 76 missiles was a research and development centre close to damascus. but also, a chemical weapons storage site near homs, 22 weapons were aimed there, including the raf‘s eight storm shadow missiles. and target three, a nearby chemical weapons bunker, the main french target for seven of their nine missiles. the military in the shape of the pentagon in washington say they are very pleased with the outcome, both political and military. in a powerful show of allied unity, we deployed 105 weapons against three targets. that will significantly impact the syrian‘s regime ability to develop, deploy and use chemical weapons in the future. it has been said before, but i want to emphasise again, that by comparison, this strike was double the size of the last strike in april 2017, and i would also emphasise that this strike was a multinational effort. but an end to syria's appalling civil war is no closer
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after this military action. as long as russia continues to dominate with its forces on the ground, fighting to keep president assad in power, it is hard to see an eventual peace which isn't largely dictated by that alliance. james robbins, bbc news. we can now speak to dan plesch, who's director of diplomatic studies at soas, part of the university of london, which specialises he joins us live via webcam from canterbury in kent. thank you forjoining us. let's get straight to attend. where these military strikes in your opinion effective? have they done the job and givena effective? have they done the job and given a clear warning to syria as theresa may put it today? they have given it a clear warning. they clearly have been coordinated with the russians but i think we all have to be grateful for given the somewhat intemperate use in the
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white house from time to time. i think it is very hard to know precisely what was attacked but a year or precisely what was attacked but a year 01’ so precisely what was attacked but a year or so president trump attacked targets and here we are a year later. 0ne targets and here we are a year later. one point, from your correspondent in new york, there is still a very real risk of this crisis continuing to escalate and if people are worried as i think they have been over this weekend then they are right to be worried. we don't know exactly from the ground what went on and what the attacks have achieved. sorry to interrupt, when you say people watching bbc news right now are right to be worried? what should we be worried about? are lots of people are worried about us entering into world war iii tonight. exactly. and i think that is at an entirely sensible and rational worried. the confrontation is ongoing with
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russian and american forces on the ground in syria. with one has to say not particularly skilful leadership in the west at the moment. president putin with a country that is playing a very strong game but was actually is fundamentally extremely weak in militarily compared to the americans. this is not situation that should be looked at with any long—term reassurance. because although on this occasion we have seen coordination and i think between the russians and americans to stop things getting out of hand, thatis to stop things getting out of hand, that is something which we can take for granted going forward. i have to say, president aside has not been accused of using chemical weapons yesterday, the day before, it is a week ago now. one has to ask if we are defending civilisation, if we are defending civilisation, if we are defending civilisation, if we are defending democracy, quite why was it so urgent with the british
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state to take action before our democracy could be involved? because if we are to deal with these very difficult problems we have to make sure our democracy is functioning. that is easy for you to save, if they are stacked in downing street tonight at the oval office and there could be a chemical strike at any time and you do nothing, we would be having a very different conversation tonight about why we did nothing. certainly we would, but then there was no immediate action, a week has gone by in any case, so... but president assad is clearly hell—bent on using chemical weapons, they were targeted a year ago with 36 missiles and he has built up as chemical wa rfa re and he has built up as chemical warfare again and use them again we believe. in deed and if what you say is correct, then parliament could have been and should have been
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recalled to debate and decide this matter particularly when you have a relatively weak government, parliament is sovereign. that is something which the british people i think rightly very concerned about. very interesting to talk to you tonight. we will get the thoughts now. . . we can speak now to iain scobbie — professor of international law at the university of manchester — he joins us via webcam. there is a lot of concern particularly from jeremy corbyn today about whether international law has been followed with these military strikes will stop in your expert analysis downing street have put three points for width that showed they are not in breach of international law. in another cell to —— ina international law. in another cell to —— in a nutshell to save lives or chemical attacks. have downing street got it spot on? the argument they had given is not convincing. for a number of reasons. the first
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one is the main idea of the idea of humanitarian intervention, that is not won widespread support, we have developed the un charter, article two paragraph four of the un charter prohibits the threat and use of force in international relations. the government has talked about humanitarian intervention. it is not recognised exception to the prohibition, it is opposed by a number of states including russia and china. the argument that the government has put forward is very reminiscent of the tony blair doctrine which was enunciated like tony blair at the chicago economic
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lobby in 1999 in relation to nato air strikes on serbia in relation to kosovo. so, just remember that a lot of us are not expert in international law, we get what you are saying humanitarian intervention does not have much support in international law, but what about military intervention just simply to save lives from a chemical attack? is that notjust the justification in itself? forget law, morally we have a choice, we do nothing we do something, that is what theresa may will be saying tonight. politicians a lwa ys will be saying tonight. politicians always wa nt will be saying tonight. politicians always want to do something, they wa nt to always want to do something, they want to be seen to act. there are procedures that should be used. after the use of humanitarian intervention by nato in kosovo do we re intervention by nato in kosovo do were discussions about this, but resulted from these discussions was
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a doctrine: responsibility to protect. a much more complex ideas than the blair doctrine. however although the responsibility to protect recognised that there could be situations in which states could intervene using blunt force against a state which was committing atrocities against the storm population, the consensus was that needed to be authorised by the security council. that takes us to the kind of second bit of the government's justification for this action, the idea that why we couldn't get action taken through the security council, therefore we had to act on our own, that is not convincing for two reasons. many thanks for your thoughts there. he is not just thanks for your thoughts there. he is notjust alone tonight. jeremy corbyn the labour leaders saying that the legality of the missile
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strikes is questionable to stop there will be a lot of debate about that on monday in parliament, i can tell you, plenty of debate, we will see how the papers are reacting to the missile strikes and the questions of its legality at 10:30pm and 11:30pm this evening. our guests joining me tonight are the broadcaster and author natalie haynes, and rob merrick, deputy political editor of the independent. jonas ithaca. —— join us if you can. some breaking news regarding ukip. gerard batten has become the unopposed new leader of ukip. they have leased a statement saying we are pleased to announce that as of ibm today gerard batten mep is the new leader of the uk independence party. he has assumed the leadership after what has been an uncontested election. still many troubles ahead for ukip. finding its way and
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finding its policies and getting the support for the leadership so far many leaders have refused to get. ukip leader gerard batten commenting on the confirmation in the last two minutes saying, i'm pleased to accept the leadership of ukip since may appointment as interim leader i have made a number of decisions that have made a number of decisions that have but the party on a firm footing financially and as an organisation, as leader i will do all i can to work for the progress of the party. ukip is the only real opposition to our political establishment as we needed now as as much as ever. one of his promises is to hold the government to account with delivering the brexit that was promised in the referendum. holding the government accountable particularly in the coming months as theresa may tries to come back with that secured agreement. one reaction on that in the papers later as well.

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