Air strike sent important message to Syrian regime, says former head of British Army

Lord Dannatt (Picture: DENISE BRADLEY)

Lord Dannatt (Picture: DENISE BRADLEY) - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2016

The former head of the Army has said the British air strike in Syria was important to demonstrate a message to the Syrian regime.

General Lord Dannatt, former Chief of the General Staff from 2006 to 2009, said he supported Theresa May's decision to join US-led action in Syria.

'The strike was important because it demonstrated to the Syrian regime you can't use chemical weapons on your own people and get away with it,' he said.

'The important thing now is that this strike against Syria forms part of an overall strategy - getting around the Geneva conference table is what we should strive for.'

The United Kingdom, United States and France launched 'precision strikes' in Syria in response to a suspected chemical weapons attack in the country.

The strikes, launched at 2am UK time today, targeted Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's chemical weapons capabilities after a weekend poison gas attack that killed at least 75 people on April 7.

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Lord Dannatt said Theresa May's decision not to recall Parliament for a vote before taking action was the right thing to do on this occasion, pointing to previous times when Parliament had voted not to get involved in the Syrian civil war. In 2013, the then Prime Minister David Cameron lost the Commons vote for military action in Syria following a suspected chemical weapons attack on the outskirts of the capital Damascus.

Lord Dannatt said it was the right decision at the time as the use of chemical weapons in Syria was 'not so clear cut', but added: 'What was unfortunate was the impression it created.

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'We left the Syrian civil war to get worse. As a result, it was because of our decision not to get involved that Russia got involved, they have been successful in keeping us out of power in Damascus. 'The west, including the British, chose not to get directly involved in the Syrian civil war in contrast with Russia, who got directly involved with Assad's regime, which has now ineffectively won the war.'

Lord Dannatt added that extremist groups like Isis emerged from the chaos of the war but were largely defeated by US-led campaigns.

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