LONDON — Britain's leaders said Thursday it would be legal under humanitarian doctrine to launch a military strike against Syria even without authorization from the United Nations Security Council.
Prime Minister David Cameron's office said the legal conditions have been met for taking action against Syria for allegedly launching a chemical attack against civilians in a Damascus suburb last week. The British leader has been at the forefront of calls for action, but his push is expected to be slowed by objections from the opposition Labour Party and a stand-off at the U.N.
Cameron's office released intelligence and legal documents meant to bolster the case that chemical weapons were used by the Syrian government and that retaliation would be justified. The documents were made public in advance of a debate in the British Parliament.
The Labour Party will oppose the resolution in Parliament, according to a party official who spoke on condition of anonymity ahead of Labour leader Ed Miliband's announcement.
In addition to a legal summary, Downing Street released the Joint Intelligence Committee assessment that concludes it was "highly likely" that the Syrian government was responsible for the chemical weapons attack on Aug. 21 that killed hundreds of civilians.
Jon Day, chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee, says in the report that assessments indicate the Syrian government had already used chemical weapons on a smaller scale since fighting escalated in 2012.