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."

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
From Mean Girls to Mamet: Lindsay Lohan
theatre
Sport
Nathaniel Clyne (No 2) drives home his side's second goal past Arsenal’s David Ospina at the Emirates
footballArsenal 1 Southampton 2: Arsène Wenger pays the price for picking reserve side in Capital One Cup
News
Mike Tyson has led an appalling and sad life, but are we not a country that gives second chances?
peopleFormer boxer 'watched over' crash victim until ambulance arrived
Arts and Entertainment
Geena Davis, founder and chair of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media
tv
News
i100
Travel
travelGallery And yes, it is indoors
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
The Tiger Who Came To Tea
booksJudith Kerr on what inspired her latest animal intruder - 'The Crocodile Under the Bed'
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
film
News
Alan Bennett criticised the lack of fairness in British society encapsulated by the private school system
peopleBut he does like Stewart Lee
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

Account Executive/Sales Consultant – Permanent – Hertfordshire - £16-£20k

£16500 - £20000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: We are currently r...

KS2 PPA Teacher needed (Mat Cover)- Worthing!

£100 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Crawley: KS2 PPA Teacher currently nee...

IT Systems Manager

£40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...

IT Application Support Engineer - Immediate Start

£28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Software Application Support Analyst - Imm...

Day In a Page

Syria air strikes: ‘Peace President’ Obama had to take stronger action against Isis after beheadings

Robert Fisk on Syria air strikes

‘Peace President’ Obama had to take stronger action against Isis after beheadings
Will Lindsay Lohan's West End debut be a turnaround moment for her career?

Lindsay Lohan's West End debut

Will this be a turnaround moment for her career?
'The Crocodile Under the Bed': Judith Kerr's follow-up to 'The Tiger Who Came to Tea'

The follow-up to 'The Tiger Who Came to Tea'

Judith Kerr on what inspired her latest animal intruder - 'The Crocodile Under the Bed' - which has taken 46 years to get into print
BBC Television Centre: A nostalgic wander through the sets, studios and ghosts of programmes past

BBC Television Centre

A nostalgic wander through the sets, studios and ghosts of programmes past
Lonesome George: Custody battle in Galapagos over tortoise remains

My George!

Custody battle in Galapagos over tortoise remains
10 best rucksacks for backpackers

Pack up your troubles: 10 best rucksacks for backpackers

Off on an intrepid trip? Experts from student trip specialists Real Gap and Quest Overseas recommend luggage for travellers on the move
Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world