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What the papers say on how Theresa May should respond to Syria ‘chemical attack’

The UK’s newspapers offer opposing views on what the PM should do next.

Theresa May faces calls in Britain’s papers both for and against joining possible near-term US-led military action in Syria.

The Prime Minister has also been urged to consult Parliament before committing British armed forces to strikes by American and French forces.

According to reports, Mrs May is set to defy calls to give the Commons a say over retaliatory action for a suspected gas attack.

The Daily Mail says that Britain should support the US “in all but the most exceptional circumstances”, although the case case for joining strikes has not yet been made.

“Nor has the case for justifying the Prime Minister’s apparent willingness to intervene in a conflict that doesn’t affect this country without involving Parliament,” the paper says.

“If she is to do this, she must convince Britain we are not on the brink of repeating Tony Blair’s calamitous mistake in Iraq.”

The Daily Mirror says that Donald Trump is “out of control” and Mrs May must not let him call the shots, favouring “quiet resolve” instead to turn the tables on the Assad regime.

“May must not be Trump’s support act,” the paper says.

“We detect no public appetite for entering war when it probably won’t make a difference.”

In contrast, The Times says the atrocity in Douma cannot go unpunished and military action is necessary to prevent further attacks in Syria or elsewhere.

“That is why Theresa May is right to have pledged British support for a joint military response with the US and France,” the paper says.

However, it cautions that strikes should only be carried out with a “reasonable expectation” that they will undermine Assad’s chemical weapon capabilities.

On Wednesday, The Guardian firmly objected to Mrs May “blindly” following Mr Trump into war, and called for Britain to “replace mindless confrontation with common sense and courage”.

“To make some headway in resolving the conundrum of the Syrian civil war there must an articulation of a clear strategy in public,” the paper said.

“This would allow the risks and benefits to be aired and a plan sanctioned by parliament.”

The Sun also warned against rushing into action without evidence confirming an attack, but said the country should not be hung up on mistakes made in previous conflicts.

“We can’t stand idly by when innocent children are dying on the cold, hard floor of a Syrian hospital,” the paper said.

“That might not necessarily mean a traditional military strike, though if an international coalition were formed and firm intelligence suggested that targeted, limited action would destroy Bashar al-Assad’s chemical weapon stocks, this newspaper would support Britain’s involvement.”

And the Daily Express said that, while Assad and backer Vladimir Putin should be held accountable, the West must not risk starting World War Three.

“Some form of military action will probably be needed in Syria but when it comes to dealing with the Russian bear itself, we should be cautious,” the paper said.

“Mr Putin has clearly been goading the West in any way he can for some time now, as we in Britain have particular cause to know, but the best way of dealing with Russia is through sanctions.”

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