Get involved: send your pictures, video, news and views by texting HMSNEWS to 80360 or you can email us Click here for details »
UN backing sought for Syria action
Britain is to seek UN Security Council backing for "all necessary measures to protect civilians" in Syria, Prime Minister David Cameron said.
A UK-drafted draft resolution will be put to a meeting of the five permanent members in New York this evening "condemning the chemical weapons attack by Assad".
"We've always said we want the UN Security Council to live up to its responsibilities on Syria. Today they have an opportunity to do that," the Prime Minister said.
Labour has made a fresh effort to secure UN backing for a military intervention one criterion for giving its support for the Government in a vote when Parliament is recalled to discuss the UK's response tomorrow.
A Downing Street spokeswoman said: "Britain has drafted a resolution condemning the attack by the Assad regime, and authorising all necessary measures under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter to protect civilians from chemical weapons. The resolution will be put forward at a meeting of the five permanent members of the Security Council later today in New York."
UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon earlier urged the members of the Security Council to "find the unity to act". Previous efforts to secure anti-Assad action have been vetoed by Russia and China. "The body entrusted with international peace and security cannot be missing in action," Mr Moon said. "The Council must find the unity to act. It must use its authority for peace. The Syrian people deserve solutions, not silence."
Moscow, which does not accept that there is evidence the regime was behind the deadly attack, maintained its opposition to military intervention. Foreign minister Sergei Lavrov warned it would "lead to the long-term destabilisation of the situation in the country and the region".
A senior Labour source said: "This is one necessary step. Ed Miliband made clear to David Cameron last night the importance of evidence from weapons inspectors and consideration of any action by the UN Security Council. We will continue to scrutinise any proposed action to ensure there is a proper legal base." A Labour source confirmed that its MPs would be whipped to follow the party line in tomorrow's Commons vote - as Tory and Liberal Democrat members are expected to be. Conservative Sarah Wollaston, who has cautioned against a rush to military action, said a whipped vote "undermines democracy and is an abuse of power".
Mr Cameron announced the move as he prepared to chair a meeting of the National Security Council at Number 10 to discuss the UK's involvement in any military response. Moscow is almost certain to use its veto as a permanent member - and China has also been consistent in blocking previous anti-Assad resolutions. The Prime Minister will hope it will persuade MPs to support the Government when they are brought back early from their summer break tomorrow to debate the Syria crisis. He has warned that the world cannot stand idly by and must take firm action to show that the use of chemical weapons - in Syria or anywhere else - could not be tolerated. But he faces opposition to intervention from a number of his own backbenchers and polling shows the public is deeply reluctant for the UK to become embroiled in military action. Former military chiefs have also issued stark warnings about the direction Mr Cameron is taking, warning that even a "surgical" missile strike could end up dragging the UK into deeper action. And the Archbishop of Canterbury has urged MPs not to rush their decision, warning of the "unforeseeable ramifications".
UN weapons inspectors were back at the site of the attack on the outskirts of the capital Damascus today but the UN Secretary General said the team needed "time to do its job". It has been made clear that military action could be taken before they have reported their final conclusions - which will look only at whether chemical weapons were used not who deployed them. Mr Cameron held fresh talks with US president Barack Obama last night, after which Number 10 said they were "in no doubt that Bashar Assad's regime was responsible for the toxic assault". US defence secretary Chuck Hagel has indicated that US forces "are ready to go" when Mr Obama gives the word.