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PM: Chemical weapons a war crime
The use of chemical weapons in Syria represents a war crime, Prime Minister David Cameron has said.
He told the House of Commons the debate should not be about political deals with Labour but about protecting civilians in Syria from further attacks.
Opening a debate as the Commons was recalled, he 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. It's about the large-scale use of chemical weapons and our response to a war crime - nothing else."
Mr Cameron said the legal judgment was that military action would have a "clear legal basis", adding that there was a clear path of steps which had to be taken before any military action, including a further vote in the Commons.
He said: "The motion also makes clear that, even if all these steps are taken, anything we do would have to be legal, proportionate and specifically focused on deterring further use of chemical weapons."
Mr Cameron said it was "beyond doubt" that the Syrian regime had used chemical weapons. He said the situation was fundamentally different to Iraq in 2003 as the case for military action is not based on a specific piece of intelligence.
The PM said the evidence that the Syrian regime used chemical weapons is "right in front of our eyes" - citing eyewitness accounts, social media reports, and at least 95 "horrific videos".
Mr Cameron said: "I am of course deeply mindful of the lessons of previous conflicts and in particular the deep concerns in the country caused by what went wrong with the Iraq conflict in 2003. But this is not like Iraq, what we are seeing in Syria is fundamentally different. We are not invading a country. We are not searching for chemical or biological weapons. The case for ultimately, and I say ultimately because there would have to be another vote in this House, the case for ultimately supporting action is not based on a specific piece or pieces of intelligence.
"The fact the Syrian government has and has used chemical weapons is beyond doubt. The fact that the most recent attack took place is not seriously doubted. The Syrian government has said it took place, even the Iranian president has said it took place and the evidence that the Syrian regime has used these weapons in the early hours of 21 August is right in front of our eyes.
"We have multiple eyewitness accounts of chemical-filled rockets being used against opposition controlled areas. We have thousands of social media reports and at least 95 different videos, horrific videos, documenting the evidence."