Alex Salmond: US attack on Syria offers ‘no solutions’

Alex Salmond has criticised the US strike. Picture: PA
Alex Salmond has criticised the US strike. Picture: PA
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Alex Salmond has criticised US cruise missile strikes in Syria, saying they provide “no solutions” to the country’s six-year civil war.

Mr Salmond joined Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn in calling for greater effort to achieve a negotiated end to the conflict.

Around 60 cruise missiles were fired from US navy ships in the Mediterranean at Shayrat air base in Syria, from where Bashar al-Assad’s regime is accused of having launched a chemical attack on Tuesday that killed dozens of civilians in the town of Khan Sheikhoun.

The UK Government said it welcomed the action.

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“The overnight cruise missile strikes by the USA against a Syrian regime air base are no substitute for a policy towards ending the conflict,” the former first minister and SNP foreign affairs spokesman at Westminster said.

Mr Salmond said the US intervention “can be justified in international law but in itself it provides no solutions.”

In 2013, when the UK and US stopped short of going to war with the Syrian regime after previous chemical attacks, Mr Salmond suggested an independent Scotland would have taken part in military action provided it was sanctioned by the UN following an investigation by weapons inspectors.

READ MORE: UK backs US missile strike on Syrian air base

In a statement this morning he said: “Such strikes should take place only after detailed examination and assessment of the storage facility and the delivery mechanism.

“They should also be part of a collective effort to place the use of chemical weapons and nerve agents beyond the pale of conflict and crucially they should also be part of a considered strategy to bring this ruinous multi layered Syrian civil war to an end.”

Mr Salmond said the Trump administration’s decision to “dramatically reverse” its stance on the Syrian regime would add “dangerous unpredictability” to the conflict.

He said UK ministers would “will find themselves struggling to keep up with the twists and turns of the Trump administration” after offering their backing.

“President Trump has a political interest right now in humiliating his predecessor and in distancing himself from Russia,” Mr Salmond added. “All of this is no substitute for a real policy to end the tragedy of the Syrian civil war.”

Mr Corbyn said the US attack “risks escalating the war in Syria still further”.

The Labour leader said: “Tuesday’s horrific chemical attack was a war crime which requires urgent independent UN investigation and those responsible must be held to account.

“But unilateral military action without legal authorisation or independent verification risks intensifying a multi-sided conflict that has already killed hundreds of thousands of people.

“What is needed instead is to urgently reconvene the Geneva peace talks and unrelenting international pressure for a negotiated settlement of the conflict.”

Mr Corbyn added: “The British government should urge restraint on the Trump administration and throw its weight behind peace negotiations and a comprehensive political settlement.”

Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron called the US action “a proportionate response” to the alleged chemical attack.

“The British government rather than just putting out a bland statement welcoming this should now follow it up and call an emergency meeting of the Nato alliance to see what else can be done, be that more surgical strikes or no fly zones,” he said.

“Evil happens when good people do nothing, we cannot sit by while a dictator gasses his own people. We cannot stand by, we must act.”