Britain weighing 'military options' in Syria

Britain weighing 'military options' in Syria
Britain should consider "military options" in Syria as part of a coalition with the United States, foreign minister Boris Johnson said Thursday.
2 min read
13 October, 2016
Boris Johnson said discussions about military options are taking place [Getty]

Britain should consider "military options" in Syria, which are still a distant prospect and could only happen in a coalition with the United States, foreign minister Boris Johnson said Thursday.

"It is right now we should be looking again at the more kinetic, military options," said Johnson, who is due to host talks on the conflict with other Western powers on Sunday.

"Whether that means we can get a coalition together for more kinetic action now, I can't prophesise," he told a parliamentary committee.

The British parliament in 2013 voted against airstrikes on President Bashar al-Assad's forces.

It has since voted to approve airstrikes but only against Islamic State group targets in Syria.

Some lawmakers have recently called for Britain to impose a no-fly zone in Syria to prevent Russian and Syrian forces bombing Aleppo.

Referring to military options, Johnson said: "We must be realistic about how these work and what is deliverable.

"You can't do anything without a coalition, without doing it with the Americans. We're still a pretty long day's march from getting that.

"It doesn't mean that discussions aren't going on. They are," he said.

"Most people, including John Kerry, feel that the process of discussion with the Russians has basically run out of road," he said.

Kerry and his Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov are due to meet in Lausanne on Saturday, in talks also joined by their counterparts from Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

Prime Minister Theresa May's spokeswoman said the British premier would "weigh up very carefully" any military or other options put forward to end the crisis in Syria.

"Clearly when the government and parliament considered this before, there were concerns about a range of action.

"Since then, obviously the conflict has continued and we started taking action against Daesh," she said, using an Arabic term for Islamic State jihadists.

"But I think the prime minister would weigh up very carefully any options that were put forward and the potential consequences of those," she said.

Russia said Thursday it was prepared to secure safe passage for rebels to quit Syria's Aleppo but kept up airstrikes on the battleground city as world powers readied new truce talks.

Syria has been plunged into some of the worst violence of its five-year war since the collapse last month of a truce brokered by Washington and Moscow.

The ensuing surge in fighting has accompanied a large-scale government offensive, backed by Russian air power, to capture the opposition-held half of battered Aleppo.