Assad should be removed if guilty of chemical attack - shadow cabinet minister

A shadow cabinet minister has said Syria's President Bashar Assad needs to be removed if it is proven he was behind a chemical attack against his own people.

Kate Osamor said "intervention must take place" if the Syrian leader was found to have gassed civilians.

The shadow international development secretary's comments appear to be far tougher than those of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who has warned about the dangers of bombing in Syria.

Ms Osamor was asked about removing President Assad during an interview with The House magazine.

She said: "That person needs to be removed. I mean, intervention must take place if evidence comes back that the PM or the president or whoever the leader is is gassing his own people. Get them out.

"But I suppose what we've seen is it's not as easy as that. And I think that's where Jeremy's position comes from. It's not as easy as just removing someone.

"I think that's what needs to happen. They always seem to abscond, end up in another country. This world is messed up. It's not easy. But if a leader is killing their own they need to be removed. We don't keep them there. They need to go. He needs to be removed.

"But how do you remove someone? I'm saying this almost as a layman, but I know politically you can't just remove somebody who is elected."

Just prior to the interview being published, Ms Osamor wrote on Twitter that the attack in Douma was "horrifying" and that there were no simple solutions for lasting peace.

"We need an urgent international drive via the UN to achieve a ceasefire, a negotiated political settlement and the right of the Syrian people to determine their own future," she added.

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Elsewhere in the interview, Ms Osamor said Mr Corbyn should allow shadow ministers to comment on foreign policy matters, given the focus on the Labour leader's responses.

Mr Corbyn has been criticised by some Labour backbenchers for his response to recent incidents in Syria and Gaza, as well as the nerve agent attack in Salisbury.

Asked about Mr Corbyn commenting on the situation in Gaza, while Labour attributed a statement on Syria to a 'spokesperson', Ms Osamor said: "First and foremost, he should allow the spokesperson for that department really to respond.

"It's not that he shouldn't have said it (Corbyn's statement on Gaza). But if that's what he's being assessed on, that's what he's being judged on, then he should just let his spokesperson speak, because it seems that whatever he says is not good enough. It's too strong or it's not strong enough.

"When actually, he's the leader. So, it should be Emily or me, whoever, should be responding. And maybe that's what he should do."

Such incidents should not be about the British media and the Labour leader, Ms Osamor said.

She added: "It takes the Government off the hook because the media then talk about Jeremy's response.

"And even if he was unequivocal, he actually is not the prime minister or he's not the foreign secretary or whatever."

Ms Osamor was also drawn on the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israeli goods, saying: "I would not say at this point in opposition we should be planning around boycotting without educating a whole generation that have missed out on that and don't understand what's going on.

"There's a level of education that needs to take place first and I would more be an advocate of that than actually worrying about BDS or not because a lot of people aren't educated and haven't made a decision based on that.

"That's not the biggest issue for me. The biggest issue for me is educating people around conflict across the globe and finding a place where we can get some resolution for people."