ES Views: The tragedy of Syria just gets worse every day

Syria has been devastated by fresh attacks in recent days: AFP/Getty Images

It’s quite an irony that the US missile strikes on Syria, justified by President Trump because children were among the victims of the recent chemical attack, killed four more children.

Typically, our Government considers the US response to be appropriate. How many times must we go here? Tony Blair took us to war in Iraq where hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians lost their lives while David Cameron is considered to be responsible for the rise of Islamic State with regards to Libya.

The hypocrisy of pro-war MPs is sickening. For two years, British-made bombs have been falling as part of a Saudi-led coalition at war in Yemen. The same coalition is blocking aid into the country, where four out of five people need emergency assistance and children are being starved to death.

The chemical attack was a terrible war crime and the perpetrators should be held to account. But how can the Government justify bringing President Assad to account when it supplies arms to repressive regimes?

Our intervention in the Middle East has not made the region safer, nor will it bring about peace.
Julie Partridge

When diplomacy fails we have to resort to military intervention — so said the Lib-Dems’ Tim Farron last week. But we have had little attempt at diplomacy in Syria.

When the conflict was about six months old, the Government declared that President Assad had lost his legitimacy. It never explicitly called for regime change in Damascus but that is what it meant by “political transition”. Its claim to be working for negotiations with Assad was a complete fraud, given that he could not be involved in “negotiations” until he had agreed to step down.

That is why this catastrophe has lasted six years, with no end in sight.
Brendan O’Brien

I agree with Patrick Cockburn [“Syria air strikes are good for Trump but won’t win the war”, April 7] that the American cruise missile attack on the airbase in Syria will not in itself alter the balance of power in the country. It will, however, certainly make Assad think twice before unleashing chemical weapons on his own people again. Air power is also Assad’s strongest suit.

This is the first sensible decision Trump has made since becoming President.
Stan Labovitch

We still do not know for certain who was behind the gas attack in Syria and it was therefore naïve of the US to use its rockets to attack the nearby airbase. All this will do is strengthen opposition forces, including the so-called Islamic State, and result in more deaths among the country’s innocent citizens. I weep for the Syrian people.
David Reed


In response to Sir Simon Jenkins

The Met Police is up for a debate about policing, and welcomes the views of "critical friends" like the Evening Standard. But Sir Simon Jenkins’ piece on Tuesday was based on a number of inaccuracies.

Sir Simon suggests the Met has to choose whether its boss is ‘the Home Secretary or the people of London’. In fact, most of our accountability is to the Mayor of London, as Police and Crime Commissioner. That’s why the Met has been working closely with Sadiq Khan on the Police and Crime Plan, which sets out priorities for the years ahead.

Sir Simon says the Met’s "pay and archaic practices are protected". He’s obviously missed the major changes to police pensions in April 2015, the pay freezes and then one per cent increase for officers. The Met championed direct entry for people from other professions as senior officers and we created Police Now which allows new graduates to come in for two years into community policing.

Mr Jenkins says "police demanded more money" after Westminster. The Met did no such thing and nor did policing nationally. He says there is "no sense of priorities for gang violence and computer fraud". Not only is this referenced in the plan, your own reporting has covered the gang-busting tactics from our Trident unit which has ensured that more than 1,000 gang members are currently in prison. And we have a whole unit dedicated to combatting cyber-crime.

We didn’t "exonerate our own staff in the 'Plebgate' affair", we dismissed four of them and one went to prison based on our evidence. We didn’t spend £30 million on Operation Midland. We don’t have 107 "multifarious specialist units" and we don’t have a "para-military outfit called Operation Hercules".

We have, however, doubled the amount of police officers dedicated to neighbourhood policing. We have brought down the number of crimes affecting most people like burglary and theft and we have worked hard with the security services to protect London from terrorists.

Sir Simon is right raise concerns about a recent rise in knife crime, as indeed have we. He’s right to recognise the limitations of law enforcement in tackling the roots of gang violence and terrorism. But the Met would have been derelict in our duty had we not responded to the Paris attack by strengthening our ability to protect Londoners from attackers with automatic weapons.
Martin Fewell, director of media for Met Police

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Emissions zone is all about money

As a first-time diesel car buyer who thought I was doing the right thing after Gordon Brown lowered car tax for diesels, I am now suspicious that the Mayor’s Ultra Low Emission Zone is not just about cleaner air but also about raising revenue.

There are innovative products which can significantly reduce nitrogen dioxide at a low cost but these are being conveniently ignored. Does the Mayor want to tackle diesel or not?
Jason Mochine

It is unacceptable that taxpayers have been subsidising diesel car usage for many years. But it will compound the iniquity if they are expected to pay even more money because it turns out that they have been polluting the environment.

If there is any compensation to be paid, it should be given to those who breathed in the noxious fumes.
Julien Hofer

I concur with Fred McBrown’s comments [Letters, April 7] concerning the exemption of black cabs from planned pollution charges.

However, I would go further and ban all cabs from the Royal Parks. My observation is that taxis and private hire vehicles make up a huge proportion of traffic and the parks should not be used as rat runs by commercial vehicles.
Stephen Dunkin

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Garcia triumph was simply wonderful

Even though we had an Englishman, Justin Rose, in the Masters play-off on Sunday night, I must confess that I cheered on Sergio Garcia and was delighted when he won.

Those who persevere deserve to be rewarded, so after playing in 74 Majors and appearing for the 19th time at the Masters, it was great to see Garcia finally win that elusive green jacket.

It was a fitting tribute to the late Seve Ballesteros that on his 60th birthday a fellow Spaniard would win at Augusta. He would have been proud of the way Garcia rallied after appearing to lose his way in the final round.

I’m just sad it is over.
L Beardwell

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