Boris Johnson has said the UK should “seriously consider” airstrikes in Syria if its leader is found to have used chemical weapons on civilians.
The Foreign Secretary said Western countries could not “allow the use of illegal weapons to go unpunished” after reports of chlorine bombs being dropped on eastern Ghouta, an enclave near the capital of Damascus.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “It’s very important to recognise there’s no military solution that we in the West can now impose.
“I think we have to be absolutely clear about this; the people listening to us, listening to this programme in eastern Ghouta cannot get the idea that the West is going to intervene to change the odds dramatically in their favour.
“But what I think we need to ask ourselves as a country, and I think what we in the West need to ask ourselves, is can we allow the use of chemical weapons, the use of these illegal weapons to go unreprieved, unchecked, unpunished?
“I don’t think that we can.”
He added: “If there is incontrovertible evidence of the use of chemical weapons, verified by the Office of the Prevention of Chemical Weapons, if we know that it’s happened and we can demonstrate it, and if there is a proposal for action where the UK could be useful, then I think that we should seriously consider it.”
It came after Mr Johnson expressed hopes “the West does not stand idly by” if evidence is produced to confirm claims President Bashar al Assad’s government was behind the deadly chlorine gas attack.
He described the bombardment as “disturbing” and called for the reports to be “fully investigated”, with anyone found responsible to be “held accountable”.
On Saturday, the United Nations approved a resolution demanding a 30-day ceasefire amid the Assad regime’s assault on eastern Ghouta, with Russian support, where close to 400,000 civilians are trapped.
Labour MP John Woodcock has called in Parliament for the bodies of all those killed to be “piled up in this chamber and lain at the feet of governments of every single nation which continues to shrug in the face of this horror”.