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British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn condemned the chemical attack in Douma, Syria over the weekend, and urged a political solution to Syria's ongoing war—while President Donald Trump said he would be deciding soon whether to wage an attack on the country. hoto: Chatham House/Flickr/cc)

Warning Against 'Knee Jerk' Attack on Syria, Labour's Jeremy Corbyn Calls for Facts and Diplomacy Over Bombs

"The tragedy and the terror of people's lives in Syria can only end by a political solution."

Julia Conley

British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn stood firmly against other European leaders on Tuesday as many appeared ready to follow President Donald Trump into battle, after Trump made overtures regarding a possible attack on Syria.

Corbyn condemned the suspected use of a chemical weapon in the town of Douma, which killed at least 42 civilians over the weekend—and urged a political solution to the ongoing civil war in Syria, strongly cautioning against military action by the U.K., the U.S., or other Western allies.

"The tragedy and the terror of people's lives in Syria can only end by a political solution," Corbyn said Tuesday. "That means every country in the region—every country in the region, as well as Russia and the United States—coming together to ensure there is a meaningful ceasefire and there is a political process."

While Trump warned that the U.S. has "a lot of options militarily," Corbyn said the international community must first and foremost investigate the attack on Douma.

"I call on all parties to cooperate urgently with the UN in conducting an inquiry into this so we can find out exactly who delivered that chemical weapon," Corbyn said. "The evidence is important and the use of international law is crucial to bring about a more peaceful world in the future."

Other European leaders have appeared all-to-eager to wage an attack on Syria in the wake of the weekend's violence. British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson echoed Trump's comments by saying, "a full range of options should be on the table," while French Prime Minister Édouard Philippe called for a "strong, united and resolute" international response to the chemical attack and told parliament, "our reaction to the use of these weapons will say things about who we are."  

Anti-war policy groups have warned against Trump's impulsive reaction to the chemical attack.

"President Trump's threat to attack Syrian forces in response to a chemical weapons attack is a reckless, knee jerk reaction to a complex and dangerous situation," said Kevin Martin of Peace Action. "Instead of escalating our involvement in Syria by responding to an unlawful chemical attack with unlawful strikes, the president should support an independent investigation into the chemical attack and pursue diplomatic and humanitarian strategies for addressing individual war crimes as well as the conflict as a whole."

The UK-based Stop The War Coalition warned that further escalation of the war would be "highly dangerous" for Syrians and the region.

"The only solution in Syria is a ceasefire on all sides and a political settlement—military intervention has already been proved to have failed," the group stated.

While Corbyn's statements were dismissed as "weak" by the right-wing press and some fellow British lawmakers, supporters praised his restraint and commitment to international law.


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