David Cameron vows to find ways to end Syria bloodshed

 

David Cameron vowed to work with newly-reelected Barack Obama to find ways to end the bloodshed in Syria after hearing “horrendous” stories of suffering from refugees at a camp in Jordan.

The Prime Minister said his resolve to force Bashar Assad from power had been strengthened by the visit to the border region where tens of thousands of fleeing Syrians are living at the vast UN-run compound.

British humanitarian aid for the crisis would be increased by £14 million, he said, after being taken to an area of the border where up to 500 people a day are arriving.

Diplomatic talks are also planned between the UK's special envoy to the Syrian opposition Jon Wilks and rebel military chiefs in an effort to "help shape the opposition", he said.

Mr Cameron was in the country on the final leg of a three-day Middle East tour and is believed to be the first G20 leader to visit the Za'atri camp.

"I wanted to hear for myself the stories of people who have been bombed and shot and blasted out of their homes in Syria by a deeply-illegitimate and unpleasant regime that is raining down death and destruction on its own people," he said.

"It is truly horrendous to hear those stories and just redoubles my determination that now, with a newly-elected American president, we have got to do more to help this part of the world, to help Syria achieve transition."

Mr Cameron travelled by helicopter to a valley dominated by the Al Wahdah dam which is one of the busiest crossing points and was recently hit by Syrian shells.

Some of those arriving seeking shelter in Jordan had walked for up to 15 days to reach the border, he was told by the local Jordanian military chief.

At the camp, he met some of those recently arrived in the country and was treated to a patriotic Syrian song by young girls at one of the classroom tents set up for the many children living there.

Mr Cameron told them: "You are not just missed in Syria, all of the world wants to help you, including my country."

Speaking about the moves to set up talks with the rebel military leaders, he said: "There is an opportunity for Britain, for America, for Saudi Arabia, Jordan and like-minded allies to come together and try to help shape the opposition, outside Syria and inside Syria, and try to help them achieve their goal, which is our goal of a Syria without Assad."

It is a recognition that events are increasingly dictated by the military figures and not the splintered political groupings, who met in Qatar this week in an effort to forge an alliance against Assad.

And there is mounting concern that extremists are gaining a major influence inside opposition forces.

Mr Cameron left open again the possibility that the president could be allowed to flee the country voluntarily to a state where he could evade any criminal charges against him over the slaughter which has killed upwards of 30,000 people so far.

"I would like to see him face justice but, frankly, any option that involves him leaving the country and a transition taking place would be good for the people right behind me here," he said.

At present 2.5 million people inside Syria need humanitarian assistance and the number of refugees in the surrounding region is predicted to almost double to 710,000 by the end of the year.

That could mean a quarter of a million alone in Jordan.

Of the new aid, £9.5 million will go on blankets, soap and food for those forced out of their homes within Syria and on emergency help for the 8,300 Palestinian refugees based in Syria.

The rest - taking total UK aid to ease the crisis to £53.5 million - will be used to help those who have fled to Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey - including safe transport from the border to the camps where they are being housed.

Mr Cameron will fly back to the UK after meeting with the King of Jordan for talks with German chancellor Angela Merkel but will not arrive in time for Prime Minister's questions in the Commons.

Foreign Secretary William Hague set out the details of contacts with Syrian rebel fighters in a statement to Parliament, claiming it would help the UK get a better understanding of the situation in the country.

He said the policy would build on meetings with the political representatives of the armed opposition which had begun earlier this year.

"Such groups are playing an increasingly influential role within Syria as the conflict worsens," he told MPs.

"I have therefore now authorised my officials to have direct contact with an even wider range of representatives including military figures in the armed opposition.

"This will help us to understand better the situation in Syria and the relationship between political and armed opposition groups so we can properly support political transition."

Mr Hague said all meetings with rebel military leaders would take place outside Syria and "only in environments we deem suitably secure".

He added: "Each potential contact will be explored cautiously and on a case-by-case basis.

"Through continuous assessment, we will make every effort to ensure that FCO officials engage only with legitimate representatives of the opposition."

He added: "In all contacts my officials will stress the importance of respecting human rights and international human rights norms, rejecting extremism and terrorism, and working towards peaceful political transition.

"British contacts with military elements of the Syrian armed opposition will be limited to a political dialogue including working towards an inclusive political transition."

He added that the UK would continue its policy of only supplying non-lethal support, such as radios and generators, to the unarmed opposition.

PA

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Voices
Lucerne’s Hotel Château Gütsch, one of the lots in our Homeless Veterans appeal charity auction
charity appeal
Arts and Entertainment
Tony Hughes (James Nesbitt) after his son Olly disappeared on a family holiday in France
tv
News
people

Jo from Northern Ireland was less than impressed by Russell Brand's attempt to stage a publicity stunt

Sport
Scunthorpe goalkeeper Sam Slocombe (left) is congratulated by winning penalty taker Miguel Llera (right)
football
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment
The Apprentice candidates Roisin Hogan, Solomon Akhtar, Mark Wright, Bianca Miller, Daniel Lassman
tvReview: But which contestants got the boot?
Life and Style
A woman walks by a pandal art installation entitled 'Mars Mission' with the figure of an astronaut during the Durga Puja festival in Calcutta, India
techHow we’ll investigate the existence of, and maybe move in with, our alien neighbours
Arts and Entertainment
Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels ride again in Dumb and Dumber To
filmReview: Dumb And Dumber To was a really stupid idea
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Ian McKellen tempts the Cookie Monster
tvSir Ian McKellen joins the Cookie Monster for a lesson on temptation
News
i100
Travel
Tourists bask in the sun beneath the skyscrapers of Dubai
travelBritish embassy uses social media campaign to issue travel advice for festive holiday-makers in UAE
Arts and Entertainment
Jennifer Saunders stars as Miss Windsor, Dennis's hysterical French teacher
filmJennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress
Sport
Nabil Bentaleb (centre) celebrates putting Tottenham ahead
footballTottenham 4 Newcastle 0: Spurs fans dreaming of Wembley final after dominant win
Life and Style
tech
Voices
Jimmy Mubenga died after being restrained on an aircraft by G4S escorts
voicesJonathan Cox: Tragedy of Jimmy Mubenga highlights lack of dignity shown to migrants
Life and Style
Sebastian Siemiatkowski is the 33-year-old co-founder and CEO of Klarna, which provides a simple way for people to buy things online
tech
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst

£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established media firm based in Surrey is ...

Ashdown Group: Java Developer - Hertfordshire - £47,000 + bonus + benefits

£40000 - £470000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: Java Developer / J2EE Devel...

Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Director - London - £70,000

£70000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Controller - Fina...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive - Nationwide - OTE £65,000

£30000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This small technology business ...

Day In a Page

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
10 best high-end laptops

10 best high-end laptops

From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
Adam Gemili interview: 'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

After a year touched by tragedy, Adam Gemili wants to become the sixth Briton to run a sub-10sec 100m
Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

Homeless Veterans campaign

Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

Meet Racton Man

Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

Garden Bridge

St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

Joint Enterprise

The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

Freud and Eros

Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum