Labour is split right at the top of the party over how to respond to Donald Trump's decision to launch air strikes on Syrian government forces, it emerged on Friday (7 April).

Leader Jeremy Corbyn has condemned the attacks, warning that America's actions could escalate the civil war, while deputy leader Tom Watson described the missile strikes as a "direct and proportionate response" to a chemical weapons attack on rebel-held Idlib on Tuesday.

"Tuesday's horrific chemical attack was a war crime which requires urgent independent UN investigation and those responsible must be held to account," Corbyn said.

"But unilateral military action without legal authorisation or independent verification risks intensifying a multi-sided conflict that has already killed hundreds of thousands of people.

"What is needed instead is to urgently reconvene the Geneva peace talks and unrelenting international pressure for a negotiated settlement of the conflict.

"The terrible suffering of the Syrian people must be brought to an end as soon as possible and every intervention must be judged on what contribution it makes to that outcome. The British government should urge restraint on the Trump administration and throw its weight behind peace negotiations and a comprehensive political settlement."

Watson, in contrast, told The Birmingham Mail: "These US strikes appear to be a direct and proportionate response to a clear violation of international law by the Syrian regime.

"It's clear from the nerve gas attack in Khan Sheikhoun earlier this week that President Assad had retained a chemical weapons capability, contrary to what was agreed in 2013. Indiscriminate chemical weapons attacks on civilians can never be tolerated and must have consequences.

"It's vital that the United States is now clear about its intentions and that the whole international community works towards a political settlement in Syria."

It has also emerged that Shadow Defence Secretary Nia Griffith was consulted by Corbyn. Griffith, who has been in the role since October 2016, backed the strikes but the Labour leader's office took a different direction, a source told IBTimes UK.