UK participation in strikes on Syrian troops: ‘The buck must stop with Theresa May’

MQ-9 Reaper drone © U.S. Air Force / Tech. Sgt. Ricky Best
British PM Theresa May must take responsibility for the crass blunder when UK troops got involved in US-led coalition airstrikes that hit Syrian government troops and the truth must be revealed, says former British ambassador to Syria Peter Ford.

RT: The UK Ministry of Defence has confirmed to RT it took part in the deadly coalition airstrikes in Syria's Deir ez-Zor province on Saturday. Earlier Australia and Denmark did the same. The US is investigating with all of these countries involved. Will it be difficult to identify who was actually responsible for the strikes that lead to the killing of over 60 Syrian troops? Will we ever get to the bottom of what went wrong?

Peter Ford: I am doubtful we will get to the bottom of it. But what is clear is that there has been an enormous blunder. Those of us who opposed Britain’s involvement in the bombing of the so-called ISIS from the beginning have been vindicated, as mistakes in judgment and professionalism have occurred on a massive scale. If Britain and America wanted to help ISIS they would not have gone about it any other way than doing what they have done shamefully in Deir ez-Zor. If Britain and America wanted to undermine the ceasefire painfully negotiated and teetering already on the brink, they would not have gone about it any other way than doing what they did. What should be first and foremost on the part of the British government - an open disclosure of the facts, a formal apology to the Syrian government and people, an offer of reparations to the hundreds of family members now left bereft, the whole thing reeks of being a shambles.

RT: Should the buck stop with the US, as they are leading this coalition?

PF: The buck must stop with Theresa May. She is the British commander-in-chief; Americans like to call that head of the government. As the commander-in-chief, she must take responsibility for this crass blunder. The truth must be given to the public.

RT: There were some harsh words coming from US officials who accused Russia of exaggerating the problem. The US Secretary of State even went on to say that it's Russia and Syria that should take the ceasefire seriously. Was it a suitable response for him, do you think?

PF: The Americans are trying to mask the fact that they have failed to deliver clients for the ceasefire. They were supposed to put pressure on the jihadists and other Islamists to respect the ceasefire. That has not happened. Almost all the ceasefire violations have been from the jihadi side, virtually none from the side of the Syrian government. The Russian government did apply the necessary pressure; but that has not been reciprocated. The ceasefire now is probably in its last hours. I don’t see how it can recover from the mortal road in Deir ez-Zor.

RT: What’s your prognosis for the ceasefire in Syria? Do you think it is going to last?

PF: I am very doubtful now after what has happened and the absence of signal from the American-Islamist side that they are going to respect the ceasefire...

‘Syrian army location was known, they’ve been there for 2 years’

It will be now impossible to get to the truth since the coalition is doing its own investigation on what they call a “blunder”, says Michael Raddie, editor at BSNEWS.INFO.

The US has got enough air power and surveillance equipment to actually do this strike on its own…If it was intending to strike ISIS; it could have done it on its own. Instead, it involved at least three other countries’ military, including the Danish, the Australians and the British,” he told RT. According to Raddie, that indicates the US involved the coalition forces “deliberately” in order to “create plausible deniability” and make it look like it was easy to make an error due to communications problems between at least four countries involved. However, he went on, the Syrian army location is well-known as “they have been there for two years and haven’t moved their position.

On Monday, the Syrian military declared that after seven days the ceasefire is over, and it did not clarify whether it is going to be renewed.

Michael Raddie said his initial thought on the news was “why aren’t the Provisions of Ceasefire actually published?

These have all been vetoed by the US. This could have been published a week ago. There was something in that document that the Russians wanted everyone in the world to know that the US kept blocking. I don’t know what it was, but that was going to highlight the fact that some of the groups are obviously supported by the US and the coalition and the Western countries. Whatever that was we may never know now. I think the Russian government – Lavrov and Putin should just publish the document as it stands. Obviously they’re very crude chess players in terms of international diplomacy – that may not happen. But it would be interesting to find out, what was the stumbling block for that document, the Ceasefire Provisions that was never published in the first place,” he said.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.