The UK government on Thursday provided justification for a possible strike on Syria, in the face of public backlash. Prime Minister David Cameron [official website] spoke in front of British Parliament [WSJ report], giving validation on humanitarian grounds in addition to the need to prevent the use of chemical weapons. Cameron also emphasized that no decision has been made and that military action would not proceed without further parliamentary vote. US Secretary of State John Kerry has also verified that chemical weapons have been used [AP report] in Syria while also claiming that the Assad regime destroyed evidence amidst formal investigation into the matter.
The Syrian Civil War [JURIST backgrounder] has been ongoing since 2011 when opposition groups first began protesting the regime of Bashar al-Assad, and the increasingly bloody nature of the conflict has put pressure on the international community to intervene. Earlier this month, Human Rights Watch reported [JURIST report] that nine apparent ballistic missile attacks on populated areas have killed at least 215 citizens including 100 children. In July the Chair of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria urged the international community [JURIST report] to bring peace to the country. In May Pillay expressed concern [JURIST report] regarding reports that described the slaying of entire Syrian families and shelling of communities, as well as the targeted strikes by Syrian armed forces on hospitals and schools. More than 100,000 people have been killed since fighting began between Syrian government forces and opposition groups seeking to oust Assad. Almost two million have fled to neighboring countries and a further 4 million have been internally displaced.