Protests over Syria attacks

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The use of international air bombardments in the war in Syria has provoked anger and protest in Ireland.

Britain, the US and France launched joint strikes on three built-up areas in Syria on Saturday. They claimed the 105 missiles fired were targeting chemical weapons facilities.

The missiles were in response to an alleged chemical attack carried out by the Assad regime of on the town of Douma the previous weekend.

Questions have been raised over the veracity of reports of a gas attack, with some suggestions that the choking effect of a dust cloud was used to generate propaganda images.

Sinn Fein TD and foreign affairs spokesman Sean Crowe said he was “saddened and appalled” at the air strikes and added Ireland could play a role in promoting dialogue in Syria.

“The US, Britain and France are not neutral, having armed and supported various protagonists,” he said. “They have no credibility when it comes to peaceful settlements to conflicts in this region. They need to desist from their military interventionism.”

Sinn Fein MEP Martina Anderson staged a protest in the European Parliament, holding up signs calling for an end to the bombing.

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood said policy on Syria should be approved by MPs, not “through a solo run by Theresa May or dictated by any US President”.

He said: “The violence and bloodshed that is happening in Syria is horrific. Any military intervention threatens to escalate the conflict even further.”

British Prime Minister Theresa May has also faced criticism from Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and her her MPs for making the decision without consulting the British parliament, but had the support of the unionist DUP.

The Tanaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney said he could “understand” why the bombardments were ordered.

“I think the international community has to be strong on this issue,” he said. “I would have much preferred it was the UN taking robust action in terms of accountability, independent inspections and taking legal prosecutions after investigation on the basis of in international war crimes.

“But that clearly hasn’t been possible, yet anyway, through the UN, so I can understand why the targeted military action happened, but it wasn’t something that Ireland was involved in.”

Republican Sinn Fein also condemned the attack in what they said was a “proxy war”.

“The irony of defending civilians from chemical weapons by firing weapons of mass destruction is clearly lost on the countries involved as well as their cheer-leaders,” they said.

“It is clear that all outside forces should cease operations on Syrian territory. That the arming, equipping and training of militias must end. For too long outside interference in the internal affairs of a variety of Arab countries has brought nothing but death and destruction to those countries. The deaths of hundreds of men, women and children attempting to cross the Mediterranean bears witness to this.

“For those saying this attack was to defend civilians, we need only look to Yemen. Weapons supplied by the UK and USA are used on a daily basis to kill civilians by the Saudi regime. Starvation is being used there as a weapon yet this is ignored. Likewise the actual murders of unarmed people in Gaza over the past week in particular and years in general are equivocated on by the very leaders who authorised last night’s attack.”

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