WATCH: Intervening in Syria risks 'helping al-Qaeda', warns Tory chair of Defence Committee
Bombing the Assad regime in retaliation for the chemical attack on Syrian civilians risks "helping al-Qaeda", the Tory chairman of the Defence Select Committee has warned.
Julian Lewis spoke out amid growing calls for Western governments to intervene following last week's atrocity in Douma, which left dozens dead.
He said it was clear that Islamist extremists were in charge of the forces battling the "brutal" Assad regime and described the choice facing Western governments as "between monsters on the one hand and maniacs on the other".
"What is being proposed is that we should intervene massively on the side of the opposition in Syria against Assad and the truth is very different from the suggestion there is a wide range of opposition groups," Dr Lewis told BBC Newsnight.
"It is absolutely untrue to say that apart from the Kurdish-led forces the Salafists and the Jihadists are not in control of the opposition groups - they are and we will be helping al-Qaeda if we help them to do a sustained military campaign against the brutal Assad regime," he added.
And he drew a parallel between the invasion of Iraq and the prospect of military action against the Syrian government.
"The point about this is if you want to say we should bring down Assad now then you've got to justify what we did in Iraq and you've got to be prepared to spend 15 years turning Syria round."
MAY AND TRUMP TALKS
His comments come after Theresa May spoke to President Trump and French president Emmanuel Macron yesterday to discuss the Douma attack.
“They agreed that reports of a chemical weapons attack in Syria were utterly reprehensible and if confirmed, represented further evidence of the Assad regime’s appalling cruelty against its own people and total disregard for its legal obligations not to use these weapons," a Downing Street spokesperson said.
“They agreed that the international community needed to respond to uphold the worldwide prohibition on the use of chemical weapons."
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