UK & World News
Syria: Pressure For New Vote On UK Strikes
There are growing calls for David Cameron to consider a second parliamentary vote on military action in Syria if further evidence emerges that civilians were targeted by chemical weapons.
Washington has announced that hair and blood samples prove the regime of Syrian President Bashar al Assad has used sarin gas to attack civilians.
Secretary of State John Kerry has used interviews with several US news channels to suggest the case for military strikes is growing, adding that he is confident Congress will back military action when it is put to a vote next week.
In Britain, pressure is mounting for a second vote on whether to support a strike against the Assad regime.
Boris Johnson has become the latest senior politician to suggest a new bid for parliamentary support could be made.
Writing in the Telegraph, the Mayor of London said the use of chemical weapons for mass murder in Syria could not go unpunished.
"If there is new and better evidence that inculpates Assad, I see no reason why the Government should not lay a new motion before Parliament, inviting British participation - and then it is Ed Miliband, not David Cameron, who will face embarrassment," Mr Johnson wrote.
Mr Cameron ruled out the use of British force in Syria following a defeat in the Commons.
But the prospect of Parliament revisiting the issue has been raised since Mr Obama's announcement that he is seeking congressional support for a strike.
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said he could not foresee any circumstances in which the Government would return to Parliament on the same issue.
"We're not going to keep asking the same question of Parliament again and again. We live in a democracy, the executive cannot act in a way which clearly is not welcome to Parliament or the British people, so we're not proposing to do so."
He added: "I can't foresee any circumstances that we would go back to Parliament on the same question, on the same issue."
Russia has said that US strikes on Syria would delay a peace conference "for a long time, if not forever", and has sent a spy ship to the Mediterranean.
The reconnaissance ship left Russia's naval base in the Ukrainian Black Sea port of Sevastopol late on Sunday on a mission "to gather current information in the area of the escalating conflict", the Interfax news agency reporteed.
The rhetoric between Washington and the Syrian regime has grown increasingly hostile in recent days.
Mr Assad told state TV his country is capable of confronting any attack.
"The American threats of launching an attack against Syria will not discourage Syria away from its principles ... or its fight against terrorism supported by some regional and Western countries, first and foremost the United States of America," he said.
Mr Obama has launched an intense lobbying effort in an attempt to sway sceptical US politicians to support a military strike.
Arab League foreign ministers have urged the United Nations and the international community to take "deterrent" action, while blaming the regime for the alleged chemical weapons assault.
According to US estimates, up to 1,429 people, including at least 426 children, were killed in the alleged chemical attack in Damascus last month.
France says it will hand over evidence to lawmakers proving President Assad's regime was behind the August 21 chemical weapons attack in Syria.
As the diplomatic wrangling continues, British MPs have called for answers from the Government over a chemicals trade deal with Syria signed months after the bloodshed started.
The Department for Business issued licences for the export of sodium fluoride and potassium fluoride to the war-torn country in January last year before revoking them several months later.
The chemicals are capable of being used to make nerve gas such as sarin as well as having a variety of industrial uses.
The Government said no chemicals were exported before the licence was revoked in June 2012 following EU sanctions but MPs said they intend to raise the issue at Westminster.
The SNP's Angus Robertson said: "This is utter hypocrisy from the UK Government - deploring chemical weapons in public whilst approving the sale of items needed to make them.
"I will be raising this at Westminster as soon as possible to find out what examination the UK Government made of where these chemicals were going, and what they were to be used for.
"Approving the sale of chemicals which can be converted into lethal weapons during a civil war is a very serious issue."