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Syria intelligence to be published
Legal advice and evidence gathered by the intelligence services on taking military action in Syria will be published today, Nick Clegg said as it emerged that six RAF Typhoon jets have been deployed to Cyprus.
The Deputy Prime Minister insisted the Government was "bending over backwards" to address the concerns of Parliament and the public over possible missile strikes following the chemical weapons attack last week that is reported to have left 355 Syrians dead.
Labour forced Prime Minister David Cameron to pull back from asking MPs to back military action today when they are recalled to the Commons - a move which is said to have sparked fury in Downing Street.
Opposition leader Ed Miliband is continuing to push ahead with his own amendment that calls for a greater role for the United Nations before any military action is authorised and has not said whether the party will support the Government if that is rejected.
He said: "I'm clear that this is a very grave decision to take military action that the House of Commons would be making and I didn't think that that decision should be made on an artificial timetable when the House of Commons wouldn't even have seen the evidence today from the UN weapons inspectors. I'm determined to learn the lessons of the past, including Iraq, and we can't have the House of Commons being asked to write a blank cheque to the PM for military action."
The Ministry of Defence has confirmed that jets are being sent to Akrotiri in Cyprus as a "prudent and precautionary measure" and they are not deploying to take part in military action against Syria. The legal basis for taking action and findings from the Joint Intelligence Committee will be released later.
Mr Clegg told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "I think there is a great deal of understandable anxiety and concern and unease about what taking possibly military steps would mean for this country, for the world, for the region and so on. We had anticipated that. That is why we have said that we want the UN process to be followed, why we must listen to what the UN inspectors say, that's why we have been bending over backwards to both recall Parliament, now say there's going to be not one but two votes, to talk to the Opposition, to publish the legal advice from the Government as we will later this morning, to publish the advice and findings from the Joint Intelligence Committee, as we will this morning."
In the face of opposition from Labour and a potential revolt by backbenchers, the Prime Minister accepted a second vote in Parliament would be required to support direct UK military involvement in Syria once the UN process was complete. MP will vote on a motion backing the principle of military action in response to a "crime against humanity" by Bashar Assad's regime.
UN secretary general (UNSG) Ban Ki-moon has confirmed that weapons inspectors will complete their investigation on Friday. In a tweet, a UN spokesman said: "UNSG told reporters in Vienna that Syria UN ChemicalWeapons team will finish work Friday & leave Saturday." It comes as US officials have said that intelligence linking Assad to the attack last week is no "slam dunk" and raised questions about whether the Syrian president ordered the attack.
Mr Cameron has left Downing Street following a Cabinet meeting to head over to Parliament.