Tony Blair urges more pressure on Assad
Britain and the rest of the world should be “ramping up” their position on Syria to prevent even heavier bloodshed, Tony Blair said today.
The former prime minister said rebels were currently being "crushed" and he did not believe it was "inevitable" that President Bashar Assad would be overthrown.
Speaking on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme, Mr Blair - now Middle East envoy for the Quartet of powers - stopped short of calling for military intervention.
But he insisted opposition from Russia and China should not be allowed to prevent a tougher stance against the regime.
"I think we have got to look very carefully at what more we can do to ratchet up the pressure on Assad," Mr Blair said.
"People say inevitably he will go. I don't think it is inevitable, actually, unless we are prepared to make clear our support and solidarity for those people who are struggling against what is a very, very brutal repression now."
Mr Blair went on: "I would be advocating ramping up where we are. How you do that, whether it is along the lines of what the Turks have suggested, creating zones of immunity, these are questions that we should debate.
"What I'm certainly very alarmed at the prospect of is the notion that we just leave that now. The consequences of that will be very brutal and very bloody for all the people there."
Mr Blair said many of the problems around Syria revolved around "what happened next" if Mr Assad was removed.
But he stressed that repression was not the answer to those concerns.
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