British PM May Declines to Say Whether Assad Can Stay After Missile Strikes

Theresa May has repeatedly said that the missile strike on Syria was not about 'regime change'

ראש ממשלת בריטניה, תרזה מיי
Simon Dawson/pool photo via AP

British Prime Minister Theresa May declined to say on Saturday whether Syrian President Bashar al-Assad should stay in power and said talks with allies would continue on finding a political solution to the civil war.

When asked if Syria's Assad could remain leader as long as he refrained from further use of chemical weapons, May said: "This was about, as I have said and you have recognised, this was specifically about the use of chemical weapons."

"There is a wider question on the future political solution for Syria and that is a matter that we will continue to pursue in diplomatic and political channels with our international partners and allies," May said.

May has repeatedly said that the missile strike on Syria was not about "regime change."

Aftermath of British air strike near Homs - Syrian TV

May said on Saturday that it was right and legal to order cruise missile strikes against Syria after a chemical attack on civilians in the town of Douma.

May said the aim was to deter the Syrian authorities from further use of chemical weapons and to send a message to the wider world that it was unacceptable to use such weapons.

"It was both right and legal to take military action together with our closest allies to alleviate further humanitarian suffering by degrading the Syrian regime's chemical weapons capability," May said.

She added that she would address parliament on Monday.

May said intelligence and open source accounts indicated that the Syrian government was behind the attack in Douma last Saturday.

"Reliable intelligence indicates that Syrian military officials coordinated what appears to be the use of chlorine in Douma on the 7th April. No other group could have carried this attack," May said. "The opposition does not operate helicopters or use barrel bombs."