Labour MP Mike Gapes says: ‘If Putin does to Aleppo what he did to Grozny, then they are going to flatten it’
Britain and the United States are both considering deeper involvement in the Syrian civil war – including looking at more military options – amid warnings that Russia is gong to “flatten” the city of Aleppo.
Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson argued it was right that military options were looked at again, because he said the Russian campaign had “pulverised” neighbourhoods.
US President Barack Obama was also expected to meet key advisors on Friday to weigh up military action, including direct air strikes on Assad regime bases.
It comes as President Assad described how he would “clean” the city by killing the “terrorists” within the city.
Speaking to Russia’s Komsomolskaya Pravda, Assad said: “It’s going to be the springboard, as a big city, to move to other areas, to liberate other areas from the terrorists. This is the importance of Aleppo now.
“You have to keep cleaning this area and to push the terrorists to Turkey to go back to where they come from, or to kill them. There’s no other option. But Aleppo is going to be a very important springboard to do this move.”
The intensification of the rhetoric comes ahead of a key meeting between the UK, US, France and Germany this weekend at which the Western powers hope to form a response to the Russian military operation.
The Foreign Office insisted Mr Johnson’s comments were not intended as a first step towards military intervention, while Downing Street underlined that there are currently no plans for UK action.
But some MPs from different parties appeared receptive to the idea of deeper intervention, following failed peace talks and days of coverage showing Aleppo’s injured civilians and gutted buildings.
Speaking to the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, Mr Johnson set out policy routes to try and mitigate the destruction of the five-year conflict that has killed some 300,000 people and displaced half the country’s population.
He said: “Our options now are to try on the humanitarian front, to try to find extra ways of getting help into Aleppo, to do what we can to warn the people of Aleppo about impending air strikes, to support the White Helmets [charity], to support all types of humanitarian relief, to intensify sanctions on some of the key players in the Assad regime and on the Russians as well.