HC Deb 10 August 1860 vol 160 cc1130-2

said, he rose to ask the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Whether, with reference to the interference of the Great Powers in Syria, it is the intention of Her Majesty's Government to limit the aid rendered by England to the appearance of a Naval Squadron off the coast? And, whether or not, in the event of the horrible massacres being continued and the troubles in Syria extending to fresh places, is the intention of Her Majesty's Government to send aid in troops, or to permit France to obtain all the honour and credit which must result from an active military support of the Christians against the terrible proceedings of the Mahomedans?


With regard to the question put to me by my hon. Friend, who has asked whether we have limited our operations to the mere appearance of a naval force on the coast of Syria, I have to reply that we have not so limited our interference; but that our naval squadron will do all in their power to prevent the massacres, and, if they are not otherwise able to do so, the Admiral is instructed to land the marines, in order to prevent a recurrence of the scenes that have lately been witnessed. It has been communicated to me by the Turkish Ambassador, that there are accounts from Fuad Pasha that nearly 400 persons have been arrested for taking part in the recent outrages; that extraordinary tribunals have been established; that several of those persons have been condemned; and that, if found guilty of taking a part in the massacres, they will be immediately executed. He informed me likewise that Fuad Pasha states that all the well-disposed people in Damascus have assisted the Government in arresting those who had participated in the outrages, and that the troops of the Sultan have behaved with the greatest loyalty. No doubt, when the representatives of the various Powers met at Paris, it was their opinion, and that of Her Majesty's Government, that there was considerable reason to fear, from the misconduct of the Turkish troops, and those who commanded them, that the cause of order would find faint and uncertain support from those troops. It was therefore thought necessary to agree that a body of French troops should be sent to support the [authority of the Sultan, to prevent bloodshed, and restore tranquillity. But it was thought far better, in the first instance, that one Power should take charge of the movement of the troops. If it became afterwards necessary to send an additional number of troops, according to the protocol laid on the table, it would then be for the Powers to consider which of those Powers should furnish the additional troops, and of course Her Majesty's Government will have to give their opinion on that subject, and, if necessary, will take a part in the operations. I trust, however, that no such necessity will arise. I am inclined to believe, from the vigorous measures that Fuad Pasha is taking, that although murders are still going on in the country, and although the unfortunate Christians are afraid to return to their homes, the state of things will very soon be much better, and that the forces of Turkey and France will restore tranquillity and order to that country. If that be the case, instead of an additional number of troops being required, the Government of France will be enabled to recall the troops they have sent. We wish that this operation maybe a speedy one, and that we shall soon hear that order has been restored and that these horrible massacres have ceased. Of course, the general restoration of order is a matter of the first importance, and we shall then have to consider what measures should be adopted to prevent a repetition of these outrages.