Britain to give United Nations resolution condemning Syria

Aug 28, 2013, 7:04 AM EDT
REUTERS/Bassam Khabieh

LONDON (AP) — Britain says it will put forward a resolution Wednesday to the U.N. Security Council condemning the Syrian government for the alleged chemical attack that has killed hundreds of civilians.

A statement from Prime Minister David Cameron's office said Britain would seek a measure "authorizing necessary measures to protect civilians" in Syria under Chapter 7 of the U.N. charter. Military force is one of the options that can be authorized under that section.

The resolution will be presented to the U.N. Security Council in New York later Wednesday, officials said.

In the past, Russia — a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council — has opposed actions against Syria, a longtime ally.

The decision to seek U.N. backing came as momentum appeared to build for Western military action against Syria, with the U.S. and France saying they are in position for a military strike.

Cameron has called the British Parliament back into an emergency session on Thursday for a debate on Syria and a vote, which is expected to endorse or reject possible military reprisals against the Syrian government.

Some British politicians have questioned whether a military strike would be legal under international law unless it is backed by the U.N. Security Council. Britain's opposition Labour Party had indicated a desire for U.N. support in advance of Thursday's debate and vote.

The prospect of a U.S.-led intervention into Syria's civil war stems from the West's assertion — still not endorsed by U.N. inspectors — that President Bashar Assad's government was responsible for an alleged chemical attack on civilians outside Damascus on Aug. 21, which Assad denies.

Doctors Without Borders says that attack killed 355 people.

A U.N. inspection team was in Syria on Wednesday investigating the massacre but has not yet reported its findings.