Cameron backs down on urgent Syria strikes

In a statement on Wednesday night Downing Street said that it only wanted to proceed on a “consensual basis” and was now wary about becoming embroiled in another divisive conflict in the Middle East in the wake of Iraq. Report at The Telegraph.

Quote from a piece at the The Financial Times:

Military planners are contemplating a 48-hour bombardment involving sea-launched Tomahawk cruise missiles. The aim of the operation will be to hit Assad regime military targets, but not its chemical weapons sites. Such a move would risk releasing poisoned gas into the atmosphere.

“The idea that the west can neatly restrict any attack to a short duration punishment with the limits drawn exclusively by us is naive in the extreme,” says a senior British military commander, speaking privately. “Ultimately one can’t help but think that these attack plans are more about restoring US authority than about helping to resolve a vicious civil war in Syria.

“There are so many issues that need to be thought through. What if our bluff is called and Assad uses chemical weapons again? What if we hit innocent civilians or, more likely, Russian technicians assisting the Syrian army? What is the ‘branch’ or follow-up plan if our aim is not achieved first time round? What if the regime and its backers retaliate by launching scud missiles at the UK sovereign base in Cyprus? I doubt whether people have really thought through how we will respond then.”