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British Prime Minister Theresa May has defended the military strike on Syria and indicated the U.K. and its allies were prepared to hit the country again if it continues to use chemical weapons.

“Nobody should be in any doubt of our resolve on this issue, which is to ensure that we see a return to that international norm on the prohibition of the use of chemical weapons,” Ms. May told reporters on Saturday.

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Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May gives a press conference at Downing Street in central London on April 14, 2018 following British military action against Syria. British jets fired missiles at a Syrian military base suspected of holding chemical weapons ingredients on Saturday in Britain's first military action against President Bashar al-Assad's regime. / AFP PHOTO / SIMON DAWSONSIMON DAWSON/AFP/Getty ImagesSIMON DAWSON/Getty Images

The Prime Minister called Friday’s mission a success and she was asked repeatedly if the U.K. would authorize another strike. Referring to the recent use of a nerve agent on a Russian double agent in Salisbury, she replied: “We cannot allow the use of chemical weapons to become normalized – within Syria, on the streets of the U.K., or anywhere else in our world. We would have preferred an alternative path. But on this occasion there is none.”

What we know so far about the strikes

At the same time, Ms May was at pains to describe Friday’s attack as limited and targeted “with clear boundaries.” And she stressed the military action was not aimed at toppling the Assad regime or interfering in the civil conflict. The U.K., U.S. and France “have hit a specific and limited set of targets. They were a chemical weapons storage and production facility, a key chemical weapons research centre and a military bunker involved in chemical weapons attacks,” she said. “Hitting these targets with the force that we have deployed will significantly degrade the Syrian Regime’s ability to research, develop and deploy chemical weapons.”

Ms. May has faced criticism for authorizing military action without seeking parliamentary approval. Public support for the strike has also been lackluster with a poll by YouGov this week showing only 22 per cent of those surveyed supported military action against the Syrian regime and 43 per cent opposed. Ms. May was likely wary about seeking approval in the House of Commons given that her predecessor, David Cameron, lost a vote on military action in 2013 after a similar chemical weapon attack in Syria.

On Saturday she said rapid action was necessary for security reasons and that there would be a debate in parliament on Monday. “I believe this action was necessary, it was the right thing for us to do,” she said. “We’ve been working with our allies and partners to make a full assessment of what happened on the ground, then to consider what action was necessary. Then to do that in a timely fashion.”

When asked about low public support she said: “My message to people is this is about the use of chemical weapons. We’ve had an accepted position in the international community - chemical weapons are illegal, they are banned - we’ve seen that international norm eroded…The lesson of history is when the global rules and standard that keep us safe come under threat we must take a stand and defend them. That’s what we’ve always done and will continue to do.”

Opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn called the strike a “legally questionable action” and said it risks escalating the violence. “Britain should be playing a leadership role to bring about a ceasefire in the conflict, not taking instructions from Washington and putting British military personnel in harm’s way,” he said adding that the Prime Minister should have sought parliamentary approval first.

In a statement Saturday, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said the use of chemical weapons was “unacceptable in any circumstances and must be condemned in the strongest terms.”

“The international community has the responsibility to identify and hold accountable those responsible of any attack with chemical weapons,” he added. This was not the first time that the Syrian regime has used chemical weapons against civilians but it must be the last.”

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