Syrian civil war: Tony Blair calls for intervention after use of chemical weapons by President Bashar al-Assad and Hezbollah involvement

Former PM: 'We should be taking a more interventionist line. That’s where I come from in politics'

Tony Blair has waded into the debate over UK policy on the Syrian civil war, saying the Government should consider imposing a no-fly zone over Syria to prevent "catastrophic consequences."

The former prime minister and current peace envoy to the Middle East said there was a danger both sides will begin to use chemical weapons as an "acceptable form of warfare" if no action is taken.

In an interview with The Times, he said: "I feel very strongly we are in danger of a failure with catastrophic consequences if we’re not careful.

"This is no longer a civil war between factions within Syria. We should be taking a more interventionist line. That’s where I come from in politics. People can agree or disagree with it.”

The two developments which he says have “completely changed the game,” for him are the revelation of Hezbollah's open involvement in the battle over Qusayr, and US and UK confirmation of the use of chemical weapons by President Bashar al-Assad.

He said: “You’ve got the intervention of Hezbollah, at the instigation of Iran. The other big change is the use of chemical weapons. Once you allow that to happen — and this will be the first time it has happened since Saddam used them in the 1980s — you run the risk of it then becoming an acceptable form of warfare, for both sides.

“There are those within the Syrian Opposition who want a pluralistic society and democracy coming out of all of this — and they are the one group of people who are not being armed.

“You don’t have to send in troops, but the international community should think about installing no-fly zones."

Syria's civil war, now in its third year, has killed 90,000 according to the UN and displaced more than one million. It is fought between forces loyal to President Assad and rebels, mostly from the disparate Free Syrian Army.

Last night Prime Minister David Cameron discussed the situation in Syria in an hour-long video conference with President Barack Obama, French president Francois Hollande, German chancellor Angela Merkel and Italian prime minister Enrico Letta ahead of next week's G8 summit in Lough Erne.

Mr Cameron earlier restated the Government's position that no decision had been taken to arm moderate rebels, but added that he was a "brutal dictator who is using chemical weapons under our nose".

He backed Washington's "candid assessment" that the Syrian regime has used chemical weapons and that there is credible evidence of "multiple attacks" by the regime.

Earlier this week, Russia reacted with extreme scepticism to the claims about chemical weapon use.

Yuri Ushakov, a top foreign policy aide to Vladimir Putin, said Russian officials had been briefed by their American counterparts on the evidence.

But he added: "I will say frankly that what was presented to us by the Americans does not look convincing. It would be hard even to call them facts.”

President Obama has approved arming the Syrian rebels for the first time in response to the development, according to officials.

"We haven't seen any credible reporting of chemical weapons use by the Syrian opposition," he said.

"However, we assess that elements affiliated to al-Qa'ida in the region have attempted to acquire chemical weapons for probable use in Syria."

Sport
premier leagueLive: All the latest news and scores from today's matches
News
newsMcKamey Manor says 'there is no escape until the tour is completed'
News
Queen Elizabeth II sends the first royal tweet under her own name to declare the opening of the new Information Age Galleries at the Science Museum, South Kensington, London
media... and the BBC was there to document one of the worst reactions
News
politics
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Sport
Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi during Barcelona training in August
footballPete Jenson co-ghost wrote Suarez’s autobiography and reveals how desperate he's been to return
Money
Welcome to tinsel town: retailers such as Selfridges will be Santa's little helpers this Christmas, working hard to persuade shoppers to stock up on gifts
news
Arts and Entertainment
Soul singer Sam Smith cleared up at the Mobo awards this week
newsSam Smith’s Mobo triumph is just the latest example of a trend
News
Laurence Easeman and Russell Brand
people
Sport
Fans of Dulwich Hamlet FC at their ground Champion Hill
footballFans are rejecting the £2,000 season tickets, officious stewarding, and airline-stadium sponsorship
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

Maths Teacher

£110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for spe...

Business Analyst - Surrey - Permanent - Up to £50k DOE

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***ASP.NET Developer - Cheshire - £35k - Permanent***

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***Solutions Architect*** - Brighton - £40k - Permanent

£35000 - £40000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker