Thursday, November 15, 2012

Navy could send warships to impose Syria no-fly zone


HMS Illustrious
The flotilla from the The Response Force Task Group will include the helicopter carrier HMS Illustrious
Royal Navy ships could be stationed off the Syrian coast as part of a campaign to impose a no-fly zone.
Britain might also supply anti-aircraft systems to rebel fighters and give support to Gulf states and other nations already giving them weapons.
At a meeting of the National Security Council today, David Cameron, senior ministers and defence chiefs were expected to discuss a range of military, diplomatic and humanitarian options to stop thousands more people dying in Syria this winter.
Aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious and assault ship HMS Bulwark are in the Mediterranean and could quickly be deployed to Syria. Typhoon jets would almost certainly play a role in an Allied operation to impose a no-fly zone. However, any military action to topple president Bashar Assad is unlikely without US involvement because Syria has an extensive air-defence system.
Members of Britain’s armed forces could instead be sent to help avert a humanitarian disaster among thousands of refugees on Turkey and Jordan’s borders. Last week, after Mr Cameron visited a UN-run refugee camp in Jordan, he said: “What we’ve done so far is not working.”
Although ministers were not expected to make any major decisions on intervention in Syria at today’s meeting, a senior government source stressed that he believed military action was now more likely following the US presidential election.
Syrian opposition leaders are due in London tomorrow for talks, amid renewed efforts to create a unified alternative to Assad.

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