Last updated: 27 August, 2013

UK military drawing up Syria contingency plans

Britain’s armed forces are drawing up contingency plans for military action in Syria, Prime Minister David Cameron’s spokesman said Tuesday, but no decision had been made about what action may be taken.

Cameron will decide later on Tuesday whether to recall parliament from its summer recess to debate a possible military intervention in the wake of a chemical weapons attack that Washington, London and Paris believe was carried out by the Syrian regime, Downing Street said.

“We are continuing to discuss with our international partners what the right response should be, but, as part of this, we are making contingency plans for the armed forces,” Cameron’s spokesman said.

The prime minister will continue talks with other world leaders to agree a “proportionate response” to the gas attack near Damascus last Wednesday.

“This is about deterring the use of chemical weapons,” the British spokesman said.

Cameron has cut short his summer holiday in order to deal with the Syria crisis and is due to chair a meeting of Britain’s National Security Council in London on Wednesday.

His spokesman refused to confirm whether lawmakers would be offered a vote on a possible military strike.

“We will make an announcement later today about whether or not there will be an early recall to discuss these issues,” the spokesman said.

Cameron is facing an increasing number of calls from lawmakers across the political spectrum to allow them to vote before Britain takes any military action.

The government has previously pledged to give lawmakers a vote before any moves to arm the rebels fighting the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.

But Cameron said in June that he reserved the right to “take action very swiftly” on Syria.