Western efforts to oust Syrian President Bashar al-Assad have shifted dramatically, with Britain announcing it will deal directly with rebel military leaders and Turkey saying Nato members have discussed using Patriot missiles to protect a safe zone inside Syria.
David Cameron, visiting a camp for Syrian refugees in Jordan, said the US, Britain and other allies should do more to “shape the opposition” into a coherent force and open channels of communication directly with rebel military commanders.
Previously, Britain and the US have acknowledged contacts only with exile groups and political opposition figures – some connected to rebel forces – inside Syria.
“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,” Mr Cameron said. “And try to help them achieve their goal, which is our goal of a Syria without Assad.”
The unnamed Turkish official who reported Patriot missile discussions between his nation and its allies said planning for the safe zone in Syria had been put on hold pending the US election.
He said any missile deployment might happen under a “Nato umbrella”, though Nato has insisted it will not intervene without a UN mandate.