David Cameron to give Syria ultimatum
David Cameron is pressing for United Nations action against Syria following the gassing of thousands of civilians in a suburb of Damascus.
By Robert Watts, and Richard Spencer in Cairo
9:00PM BST 24 Aug 2013
The Prime Minister spoke with President Barack Obama by telephone to ask for help with convening an emergency session of the United Nations Security Council.
He wants to put forward a “game-changing” resolution that would give the Syrian government, led by Bashar al-Assad, “one last chance” to disarm.
Mr Cameron is said to have been left sickened by images of children killed by the chemical weapons.
One charity yesterday said at least 355 people had died and 10 times that number were treated for poisoning.
Britain and France have blamed the Assad regime for the chemical attack.
On Saturday night four American destroyers were moving closer to Syria, armed with Tomahawk cruise missiles, which are capable of precision strikes.
Gen Sir Nick Houghton, the Chief of the Defence Staff, is to take part in a summit in Jordan tomorrow with his US, French, Turkish, Saudi Arabian and Qatari counterparts.
It follows the strongest indications to date from Washington that direct military intervention by the West was possible in the conflict.
Diplomats talked of a “change in the American posture” following the attack on the suburb of East Ghouta on Wednesday.
Mr Cameron’s officials were drafting the text of a resolution to put before the UN said to be modelled on one that offered Saddam Hussein, the late Iraq leader, “a final opportunity” to disarm in 2002.
The move risks a public row with Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, who does not want any action taken against his ally.
But US officials were studying the Kosovo conflict, in which Nato launched weeks of air strikes without UN support and in the teeth of Russian opposition.
The Prime Minister is also to hold a meeting of the National Security Council. However, senior military figures have said privately that the “window of opportunity” for a successful intervention in Syria has long been closed.
Three Syrian hospitals yesterday told the humanitarian group Médecins Sans Frontières that they had received around 3,600 patients suffering from symptoms related to the attack. Of these, 355 had reportedly died.
President Assad’s regime has denied that it has used chemical weapons, describing the claims as “absolutely baseless”.