MPs call for inquiry into British government’s inaction on Syria

With Idlib in Syria on the brink of a humanitarian catastrophe, MPs on the Foreign Affairs Committee have said that the “price of inaction” in Syria has been “unacceptably high” in a new report.

The report calls for an inquiry into the processes that led to non-intervention in Syria, where there has been a “manifest failure to protect civilians and to prevent mass atrocity crimes”, resulting in repercussions felt “across the surrounding region… [and] in Europe and the UK.”

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In responding only to chemical weapons, world leaders have contributed towards a “hierarchy of atrocities,” in which certain attacks are deemed acceptable, and others not, according to the report.

Many Syrians understood Barack Obama’s ‘red line’ on chemical weapons as “a green light to the regime to use all other kinds of weapons to kill people,” according to Farouq al Habib, a Director at the Mayday Rescue Foundation.

Habib told the Committee how Help Refugees partners the White Helmets have been deliberately targeted in “double-tap attacks, when the regime bombs the same area again and again when rescue workers arrive.”

At least 500,000 civilians have died so far in the seven year conflict, and more than 11 million people have been displaced. As Russian and Syrian government forces prepare an offensive in Idlib, those figures threaten to raise far higher.

MPs from across the political spectrum suggested that the likes of the Iraq Inquiry had examined the “cost, complexities and challenges of intervening” but “the consequences of not acting are less well understood”.

Together, they called for an independent inquiry into the government’s inaction, as well as a cross-government strategy to prevent future atrocities.

Following a chemical weapons attack in 2013, David Cameron’s government was defeated in parliament over intervention in Syria. But the report calls for an investigation that reaches beyond the UK’s inaction,

You can read the full report here: ‘Global Britain: The Responsibility to Protect and Humanitarian Intervention‘.


Help Refugees is preparing to support organisations providing emergency humanitarian aid in the event of attacks in Idlib. Please donate today to ensure that Syrians in Idlib have access to food, shelter, clothing and medical care.

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