British Prime Minister David Cameron told parliament on Thursday that it had to “make a judgment” about a military strike on Syria, saying there was no “100-percent certainty” the Syrian regime used chemical weapons.
Opening a debate in the specially recalled House of Commons, Cameron said: “the question before the house today is how to respond to one of the most abhorrent uses of chemical weapons in a century, slaughtering innocent men, women and children in Syria."
"It's not about taking sides in the conflict, it's not about invading, it's not about regime change or indeed working more closely with the opposition,” he added.
"It's about the large-scale use of chemical weapons and our response to a war crime -- nothing else."
Britain dispatched six Typhoon fighter jets to its Akrotiri base on Cyprus as a "protective measure," although the defense ministry said the planes will not take part in any direct military action.
Cameron's government was said to be outraged by the decision of Labour leader Ed Miliband to change his stance on Wednesday -- having previously offered the government conditional backing for military action.
A government source described Miliband as a "copper-bottomed shit," according to The Times.
The government has been forced to dilute the vote to one on merely the principle of military action.
Cameron said it was "unthinkable" that Britain would launch military action against Syria to punish and deter it from chemical weapons use if there was strong opposition at the United Nations Security Council.
"It would be unthinkable to proceed if there was overwhelming opposition in the (U.N.) Security Council," Cameron told parliament, when asked if Britain would press ahead with action if there was strong opposition at the United Nations.
The motion to be debated says that a final vote should only take place after U.N. inspectors report on the use of chemical weapons in Syria.
U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon said Thursday the investigators would leave Syria by Saturday and report to him immediately, according to AFP.
Cameron does not have a clear majority in parliament and his Conservative party is forced to rely on the far smaller Liberal Democrats to rule in a coalition.
With British lawmakers now facing the prospect of having to vote for a second time on a different day -- possibly early next week -- it raises the possibility that the United States will go it alone with missile strikes, without involvement from Britain, its main military ally.
(AFP with Reuters)
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