News

Britain drafts military plans for Syria

Britain drafts military plans for Syria

Free Syrian Army fighters inspect munitions and a tank that belonged to forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad after they seized Aleppo's town of Khanasir August 26, 2013. Photo: Reuters/Ammar Abdullah

By Andrew Osborn

LONDON (Reuters) – Prime Minister David Cameron recalled parliament to debate Britain’s response to a suspected chemical weapons attack in Syria, after his spokesman said plans were being drawn up for possible military action.

Cameron’s decision sets the stage for a tough parliamentary debate on Thursday that will culminate in a vote, the outcome of which remains uncertain.

The result is likely to depend on the wording of the motion, and government sources said Cameron would need to work hard to convince doubters across the political spectrum.

Many lawmakers in Cameron’s governing Conservative party are skeptical about the idea of military intervention in Syria after what they regard as costly and unsuccessful operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Cameron’s spokesman told reporters that no decision to use force had yet been taken but said that the prime minister felt strongly that the world had to act.

“Any use of chemical weapons is completely and utterly abhorrent and unacceptable … and the international community needs to respond to that,” the spokesman said, adding any decision would be part of a “strict international framework”.

“It’s reasonable to assume our forces are making contingency plans,” the same spokesman added, stressing any decision would be based on evidence from “a range of sources”.

Cameron cut short his holiday to return to London and will chair a meeting of Britain’s National Security Council on Wednesday to discuss the matter. He is expected to keep talking to other world leaders to ensure any response is coordinated.

After speaking on the phone to Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd on Tuesday, Cameron’s office said both men had agreed that “the world cannot stand idly by in light of such a significant chemical weapons attack.”

Writing in The Times newspaper, former Prime Minister Tony Blair, who ordered British troops into Iraq and Afghanistan, said the West had to stop its “hand-wringing” and act.

A failure to intervene would leave Syria “mired in carnage” as a more dangerous breeding ground for extremism than Afghanistan in the 1990s, he said.

General David Richards, the former Chief of Britain’s Defence Staff, said “pin-prick” cruise missile strikes could aggravate rather than resolve the Syrian conflict.

“I think the scale of involvement to make a decisive difference in Syria would be so huge that it is something that we, at the moment, cannot sensibly contemplate,” he told The Sun newspaper.

(Editing by Stephen Addison and Jon Boyle)

Recent Headlines

3 hours ago in National

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Scalia dead at 79

scalia

Scalia, appointed to the top U.S. court in 1986 by President Ronald Reagan, was known for his strident conservative views and theatrical flair in the courtroom.

1 hour ago in Local Sports

WWU women and men in action tonight

Fresh
WWU Vikings hoops basketball Western Washington

You can hear all the action between the WWU women and Saint Martin's on our sister AM930 KBAI and 930kbai.com. Coverage begins at 6:35 p.m.

2 hours ago in Sports

No. 6 Kansas edges No. 3 Oklahoma

Fresh
self

Kansas notched its fifth straight win and snapped Oklahoma's 19-game home winning streak.

2 hours ago in Local Sports

Shiloh Keo charged with DUI in Idaho

Updated
broncos

An Idaho State Police dispatcher says the 28-year-old Everett native was taken into custody just after 2 a.m. Saturday and booked into the Ada County Jail.

4 hours ago in Local Sports

Colorado survives furious Washington rally

FILE - In this Saturday, Jan. 30, 2016, file photo, Washington head coach Lorenzo Romar, center, talks with his team during a break in play in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Southern California in Los Angeles. Whistles have become the soundtrack for Washington basketball. The Huskies lead the country in number of players to foul out and are well on their way to seeing the most players foul out of any team in the past 20 seasons. (AP Photo/Kelvin Kuo, File)

Lorenzo Romar and the Huskies suffered their third consecutive loss.