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We're right to stay out of Syria, says former ambassador
A FORMER British ambassador to Syria has spoken out against taking unsanctioned military action in the wake of chemical attacks in the country.
Henry Hogger, who was Britain’s ambassador in Damascus between 2000 and 2003, said he supports the government’s decision not to get involved without backing from the United Nations (UN).
Last week Parliament rejected British military action after evidence emerged of an alleged chemical weapons attack in the capital Damascus.
More than 100,000 people are thought to have died since the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad began in March 2011.
Two million people have fled the country as refugees and one third of the population has been forced out of their homes by the conflict.
Mr Hogger, from Briantspuddle, said: “The impression I get is that we are not going to get involved with military action, the government seems to have set itself against it.
“I do think that’s the right decision because I can’t see what purpose would be achieved by military action.
“There would be ‘collateral damage’ which means civilians being killed and a lot of probable targets are in built-up places.
“The UN sanction certainly affects public opinion because of when we went into Iraq without a sanction.”
He added: “This is a dreadful conflict with 100,000 dead.
“It’s horrendous and I can understand people’s wish to do something but I don’t think bombing will achieve anything.
“I would like to see the international community come together and say: ‘This is something we’ve all signed against.’”
Mr Hogger arrived in Syria to take up his post in June 2000, two days after the old president – President al-Assad’s father – died.
The father-of-four met the president on a number of occasions.
He said: “At the time I think people had a relatively positive impression, Assad spoke about opening the country up to democracy.
“Gradually over the years it deteriorated.
“The opening up didn’t happen and people began to protest.
“During my time in Syria there was a feeling of disappointment but it wasn’t until the uprisings about two-and-a-half years ago when the regime reacted with brutality.”
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