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Syria and North Korea

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:13 pm on 18th April 2017.

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Photo of Boris Johnson Boris Johnson Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs 4:13 pm, 18th April 2017

I fully appreciate the point my hon. Friend makes and he is perfectly right when he says that our thoughts should equally be with the 126 victims of that appalling attack, many of whom were children, as the right hon. Member for Islington South and Finsbury said. There are many, many victims in this conflict, but the overwhelming majority of the 400,000 who have died in the past five or six years—I believe this war is now in its seventh year—have been victims of the Assad regime and its supporters. For that reason, I must say to my hon. Friend that I understand his hesitations, which are of course shared by many people, who think instinctively that perhaps it would be better to stay with the devil we know, but this is a very, very odious devil indeed, and as I look ahead I just cannot see how Bashar al-Assad can remain in power in Syria in the long term. We have to go back a long way in history to find somebody who has murdered quite so many of his population and retained office.