International military chiefs hold talks on Syrian situation
December 12, 2012 - 3:53:28 am
LONDON: International military chiefs met in London to discuss the Syria conflict, a diplomatic source said yesterday, after a report that they discussed plans to train rebels and give air and naval support.
General David Richards, the head of Britain’s armed forces, held talks recently in London with military leaders from France, Turkey, Jordan, some GCC states and a US general, the Independent newspaper reported.
A British diplomatic source confirmed that the military leaders had held talks, but played down the idea that they discussed military intervention against the regime of Syrian President Bashar Al Assad.
“What they were doing was sharing analysis about the situation on the ground and the strategic overview to help think through issues,” the British diplomatic source said. “As far as I know they didn’t explore options in any detail, certainly they didn’t explore options for military intervention.”
The source added: “There are not any plans for military intervention.”
The Independent however said that during the meeting, which was organised at the request of Prime Minister David Cameron, the military chiefs held detailed strategic discussions about how to help the Syrian rebels.
Britain, France and the United States have pledged not to put “boots on the ground” to help the rebels, meaning Turkey would most likely host the training camps, the Independent said.
Britain’s Ministry of Defence would not confirm the report and repeated its commitment to finding a diplomatic end to the conflict.
“In the absence of a political and diplomatic solution, we will not rule out any option in accordance with international law that might save innocent lives in Syria,” an MoD spokesman said.
“As you’d expect, we continue to discuss a range of contingency plans with our partners, including the US,” said the spokesman, adding: “We’re not going to speculate about details.”