Syria wants Britain to back down from involvement in the region. The Syrian Foreign Ministry reportedly sent letters to U.N. officials that accused the U.K. of “interference” and of leveraging its “colonialist experience,” the state-run Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) reported.
The letter accused the British Foreign Office of a “brazen” attitude. It also accused the government of exceeding its power as granted by the United Nations and other international laws. “The British government, they said, has no right to preach to others about democracy, human rights and combating terrorism when it itself has employed all its capabilities,” SANA said.
The condemnation follows closely with Europe’s involvement in the refugee crisis as well as its continuing debate on increasing military involvement. More than half of refugees who crossed the Mediterranean Sea and arrived in Europe -- 366,402 refugees and counting this year -- have been of Syrian descent, the U.N. refugee agency reported. The U.K., with Prime Minister David Cameron at the helm, has started an online campaign for accepting refugees, referred to as the “Refugee Welcome” movement. The country has committed to taking 1,000 refugees.
As to the military response, some British officials have said the U.K. has not been sufficiently involved with Syria’s domestic affairs. Chancellor George Osborne told Sky News he supports more military action. “I agree that the West has not done enough to contain ISIL [the Islamic State group or ISIS]. … We help with the intelligence. But, the question you ask is: Should British warplanes be bombing ISIL positions in Syria?” Osborne said.
He described an initiative by political leaders in 2013 to address the conflict. “The truth is this government, or the conservatives in the government, took to the House of Commons a year ago a proposal to intervene in Syria, and it was rejected by the House of Commons,” he said. “Personally I think it’s one of the worst decisions the House of Commons has ever made.”
Russia may be increasing its military involvement in Syria. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry called Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov Saturday to emphasize such involvement -- if true -- is “concerning”
“The secretary made clear that if such reports were accurate, these actions could further escalate the conflict, lead to greater loss of innocent life, increase refugee flows and risk confrontation with the anti-ISIL coalition operating in Syria,” the State Department said in a statement.
Russia has been a longtime ally of Syria amid conflict in the region. These latest moves would increase significantly its presence on the field, however, and not just through intelligence and military aid. The United States, on the other hand, has intervened with airstrikes to fight ISIS.
The State Department declined to reveal Lavrov's response to the phone call and the specific concerns Kerry expressed, the Independent reported. But the two nations’ leaders are expected to continue the discussion when they convene at the United Nations in New York later this month.