Labour’s Emily Thornberry has come under fire on social media for simply asking the UK government not to rely on “open source intelligence from terrorist groups” in the event of a reported chemical attack in Syria.
Thornberry, Labour’s shadow foreign secretary, asked the government if they would consult Parliament before taking military action over reports of chemical weapon attacks in areas controlled by Al-Qaeda proxy Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), a US-proscribed terrorist organization.
This prompted hysterical responses on social media, with one Twitter user claiming: “This is UK Labour guided by the spirit of Thomas Mair” – the far-right activist who murdered Thornberry’s fellow Labour MP Jo Cox. Another accused Thornberry of providing cover for Syrian President Bashar Assad’s alleged crimes.
Notice the pro-Kremlin, Islamophobic dogwhistle; notice the casual smearing of Syrian first-responders; and notice the complete absence of concern for the 3 million civilians trapped in Idlib. This is @UKLabour guided by the spirit of Thomas Mair. https://t.co/86Ql5aGYy8
— Idrees Ahmad (@im_PULSE) September 10, 2018
Wow, this elected Labour MP pulls out all the stops to run interference for the #Assad crime family that has barrel bombed, gassed, starved, forcibly displaced, tortured, raped, disappeared etc the people sheltering in #Idlib. What became of the party of Jo Cox? #Syriahttps://t.co/YWJJKMslLi
— Michael Deibert (@michaelcdeibert) September 10, 2018
There were numerous references to this news organization, with accusations Thornberry was doing the work of “propaganda” outlets such as RT and Sputnik. There was even a charge of “genocide denying” leveled at the MP.
The Labour party is a sewer because of these people. This is straight out of the RT propaganda machine. This is all they can manage to cook up while the regime continues its seven year-long slaughter campaign. This is all that’ll be remembered of Labour. https://t.co/4oSwLEgaEh
— Joey Ayoub إبن بالدوين (@joeyayoub) September 10, 2018
In turn, Thornberry’s position drew levels of support from both left-wing and right-wing critics of UK military involvement in Syria.
If you think about it logically, there’d be no motive for Assad to use CW in #Idlib, knowing it wld b the one thing that could jeopardise his victory.But there’d be a real motive for his enemies to claim such an attack.Which explains neocon anger over Emily Thornberry’s statement
— Neil Clark (@NeilClark66) September 11, 2018
On the contrary (and I write as one who has publicly clashed with Ms Thornberry, and criticised her in print), a concern for evidence before action and a respect for Parliament should be essential requirements for this job. Little sign of such qualities on the Govt front bench. https://t.co/XPTO1Jqf49
— Peter Hitchens (@ClarkeMicah) September 12, 2018
HTS are thought to have some 10,000 fighters in the last rebel stronghold – Idlib province, a region in Syria’s northwest along the Turkish border.
Upon reports of a potential chemical attack, Thornberry urged the UK to wait “until the chemical weapons inspectors, the OPCW [Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons], have visited those sites under the protection of the Turkish government, independently verified those reports and attributed responsibility for any chemical weapons used.
“Relying on so-called open source intelligence provided by proscribed terrorist groups is not an acceptable alternative,” she said.
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