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Friday, 23 August 2013 00:00

Britain beats drum for Syria intervention

Countries hostile to the Syrian government queued up today to beat the wardrums and generate worldwide demand for military intervention following allegations of chemical warfare.

France, Britain and Turkey called for a tough response to the allegations against President Bashar al-Assad's forces.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said that if the attack was confirmed "France's position is that there must be a reaction that could take the form of a reaction with force."

But Mr Fabius also ruled out the use of troops.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu also stressed the need for action.

"All red lines have been crossed, but still the UN security council has not even been able to take a decision," he complained.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague (pictured)barely had time to hear the accusations of chemical weapons use before he was on television demanding military solutions.

But the calls were, in the view of calmer heads at the United Nations, either premature or inappropriate.

Russia noted that the reports had emerged just as the UN chemical weapons inspection team had arrived in Syria.

Russian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said: "This makes us think we are once again dealing with a premeditated provocation."

At a meeting of the security council, 35 member states called for inspectors already in Syria to be dispatched immediately to the scene.

But UN deputy secretary-general Jan Eliasson said any further investigation was dependent on the security situation and would require the consent of the Syrian government.

This consent is unlikely to be given since the area is a battlefield still being bombed by the Syrian air force.

There has been no confirmation yet of the number of victims of the bombing in Irbin, Duma and Muadhamiya villages in the Ghouta area.

Reported numbers range from "scores" to a Syrian opposition group's claim of more than 1,300 people.

But until doctors can examine the victims and come to a diagnosis it is unclear what the consequences of the killings will be.

So far, interventionist Western states seem intent on relying on video footage, which may drive TV pronouncements, but is dubious justification for military intervention.

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