The UK’s most senior general said on a BBC interview Sunday that Britain had in place contingency plans for a “very limited” response in the case of a worsening humanitarian situation in Syria within the next few months.
The UK’s most senior general said on a BBC interview Sunday that Britain had in place contingency plans for a “very limited” response in the case of a worsening humanitarian situation in Syria within the next few months, in conjunction with the disclosure of a plan to use the Royal Air Force in order to impose a no-fly zone and train teams to carry out assassinations against President Bashar al-Assad and his aides.
The admission from Chief of the Defense Staff General Sir David Richards is the most serious warning yet that the United Kingdom is preparing for some kind of military involvement in Syria.
It seems that British policy has now shifted from trying to support and organize the disparate rebel groups to considering full-blown military action.
“The situation this winter I think may deteriorate and may well provoke calls to intervene in a limited way,” General Richards told the BBC.
“It’s my job, amongst other people in my sort of position, to make sure these options are continually brushed over to make sure we can deliver them,” he continued.
Defense Secretary Phillip Hammond, who was interviewed on the BBC’s Sunday Politics program, also confirmed that the UK had not ruled out military intervention – but was still focused on trying to overcome objections from Russia and China to get a strong UN Security Council resolution condemning the Bashar al-Assad government.
“At the moment we don’t have a legal basis for delivering military assistance to the rebels. This is something the Prime Minster keeps asking us to test – the legal position, the practical military position, and we will continue to look at all options.” he said.
General Richards added that there could be British troops posted in countries neighboring Syria.
“They’re allies of ours – we have small numbers of people routinely deployed there, and in the meanwhile we’re preparing plans to make sure that when some disaster happens, we’re able to deal with it.”
Another option that London is considering includes amending a 2011 European Union trade embargo that would allow weapons to be sent to the rebels, for "humanitarian" reasons.
Britain already has troops in Afghanistan, while British public opinion would be firmly opposed to any new military intervention. A growing number of British people, including many politicians, want their troops out of Afghanistan as soon as possible.