- General Lord Dannatt described vote as ‘victory for common sense’
- He said the ‘drumbeat for war’ had dwindled among British public
- Rear Admiral Chris Parry said serving colleagues were glad at decision
- U.N weapons inspectors left Syria earlier than expected today
- This has fuelled speculation U.S. could attack Syria as early as tomorrow
By Anthony Bond
PUBLISHED: 12:36, 31 August 2013
Army chiefs who led Britain in Iraq and Afghanistan have praised Parliament for its decision not to join the U.S. in any military strikes against Syria.
As America prepares for missile strikes against the war-torn country – possibly as early as tomorrow – David Cameron is still reeling from Thursday’s shock Commons defeat.
But despite the anger and frustration of the British government – and many Conservative MPs – generals who led the British Army in recent campaigns said not taking action against Syrian president
Bashar Assad was the correct decision.
Happy: Lord Dannatt, right, former head of the British Army, described the vote as a ‘victory for common sense and democracy’. Sir Mike Jackson , left, said he did not think relations with the U.S. would be damaged
Departure: U.N. weapons experts are pictured crossing into Lebanon today after leaving Syria earlier than expected – prompting fears an attack by the U.S. could begin tomorrow
General Lord Dannatt, former head of the British Army, described the vote as a ‘victory for common sense and democracy’, telling the BBC the ‘drumbeat for war’ had dwindled among the British public in recent days.
‘The will of the people has been expressed through the House of Commons that we don’t want to get involved in this – that’s the right answer at this precise moment.
‘President Obama may well take note of what’s happened in Westminster tonight and think again – I certainly hopes he thinks again because I’m absolutely convinced the use of explosive ordinance into Damascus at the present moment will make the situation in that very difficult Syrian civil war worse, not better.’
He said the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council needed to unite in bringing ‘real pressure’ on President Assad.
Speaking to The Times, Rear Admiral Chris Parry said he had spoken to serving colleagues and they were glad at the decision made in Parliament. ‘They were being asked to deliver military means without any idea of the strategic outcome desired,’ he said.
Strain: Prime Minister David Cameron is pictured being driven away from the rear of Number 10 Downing Street last night . He has been left humiliated following Thursday’s shock Commons defeat
Snub: U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry lavished praise on France last night, calling it America’s ‘oldest ally’ as the two countries prepare for a missile strike against Syria
General Sir Mike Jackson, who was Chief of the General Staff during the 2003 invasion of Iraq, said he felt that war’s legacy affected the debate.
But he said he did not believe it would affect the ‘Special Relationship’.
Speaking to The Times, he added that he thought Mr Cameron had behaved honestly. ‘He was clearly very upset by the evidence of chemical attack, which was a blatant breach of international law’, he said. ‘The majority in Parliament didn’t see it that way.’
U.N. weapons inspectors today left the war-torn country earlier than expected – fueling speculation of an imminent attack.
It came as the White House delivered an astonishing snub to Britain following Thursday’s shock Commons defeat, with sources saying David Cameron had ‘bungled’ securing British support for military action and that Britain ‘cannot be counted on’.
Victims of the Syrian chemical attack are pictured wrapped in white burial shrouds
Anger: Hundreds died in the chemical attacks, including many women and children
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry last night paved the way for war by saying the American intelligence community had ‘high confidence’ that the regime launched a chemical weapons attack on the outskirts of Damascus last week.
Mr Kerry pointedly made no mention of Britain during his speech and instead lavished praise on its ‘oldest ally’ France – which looks likely to join the U.S in a missile strike.
He paid tribute to the French for standing ready to join the U.S in confronting the ‘thug and murderer’ President Bashar Assad. He also praised Australia and even Turkey for their support.
In a passionate speech in Washington, he urged the world to act as he warned ‘history would judge us all extraordinarily harshly if we turned a blind eye to a dictator’.
President Barack Obama yesterday said he is weighing ‘limited and narrow’ action as the administration put the chemical weapons death toll at 1,429 people – far more than previous estimates – including more than 400 children.