According to a retired British General, troops on the ground in Syria are a strategic necessity and if the UK wants to beat ISIS it must be willing to put them there.
Sir Richard Shirreff, a former deputy head of NATO, believes British troops should “play a major role” and warned the government against putting their “heads in the sand”amid mounting tensions between the West and Moscow.
He also said that any British involvement in the country’s civil war was going to need international support which should definitely be led by the U.S. and that he “absolutely” supported the principle of no-fly zones .
“The notion of large-scale occupations by Western troops of Muslim countries is off the radar scale, but what is not off the radar scale is proper capacity building, and by that I mean proper training,” he told the Telegraph in an exclusive interview Tuesday.
“Let’s be clear, this is going to need an international effort, and arguably the international effort should be led by the most powerful Western democracy of all which is America, but Britain can certainly play a major role in that,” he continued.
Shirreff said that to “train properly” large numbers of troops would be required “because the whole principle of training other armies is that you live alongside them and if necessary you’ve got to be prepared to fight alongside them, or at least advise them.”
“It’s absolutely the direction of travel we should be going in,” he urged.
On Monday it was reported that troops from the British infantry and SAS had been kitted out with chemical warfare equipment ahead of an all-out assault on the Islamic State-held Iraqi city of Mosul.
While the Ministry of Defence is being cagey about the rumors, reports suggest that soldiers from the Rifles infantry regiment are in Iraq and have been issued with special anti-chemical warfare equipment.
A ‘boots on the ground’ combat deployment would be highly controversial if publicly acknowledged, with even training duties in the region stirring up public anger in the wake of the disastrous Iraq occupation.