UK might have to intervene in Syria, says top army man
'We do not always choose which wars to fight,' says man who led British troops in Afghanistan
BRITAIN might be forced into military intervention in Syria, according to a former senior Army officer who led UK forces in Afghanistan.
Colonel Richard Kemp has said that despite the reluctance of Western leaders to commit to anything more than covert support of rebel forces in Syria, "we do not always choose which wars to fight".
Col Kemp's warning, reported in The Independent, follows a string of military successes for the rebels.
Last week, a bomb planted by the opposition Free Syrian Army in Damascus killed several key members of President Assad’s regime while the government was forced to deploy helicopters and tanks in the capital for the first time against rebel fighters. The FSA has also taken control of parts of Syria's borders with Iraq and Turkey.
Fierce fighting has now erupted in Syria's largest city Aleppo. This week, the government deployed helicopters and fighter jets against the FSA in the northern city. This morning, it was reported that thousands of Syrian government troops are on their way to Aleppo from the Turkish border.
Col Kemp observes in a paper published by the Royal United Services Institute that much of the rebels' progress in recent weeks is thanks to arms and funding provided by Saudi Arabia and Qatar with the help of the US and Turkey.
"Western political leaders may have no appetite for deeper intervention," says Col Kemp. "But as history has shown, we do not always choose which wars to fight - sometimes wars choose us." He says that planning is already underway in "several Western capitals" and "on the ground in Syria and Turkey".
The tipping point at which covert intervention becomes overt could be the fall of President Assad, says Col Kemp.
"Up to the point of Assad's collapse, we are most likely to see a continuation or intensification of the under-the-radar options of financial support, arming and advising the rebels, clandestine operations and perhaps cyber warfare from the West," he writes.
"After any collapse, however, the military options will be seen in a different light."