Some commentators in the British mainstream media believe the UK has "done nothing" in the war in Syria and lament the failure to help stop it.
In fact, Britain has engaged in a covert operation with allies to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad for more than six years, and this policy has helped prolong and radicalise the terrible war. It is British action, not inaction, that is the biggest problem with government policy towards Syria. The full story of this covert operation may take years to emerge, but some elements of it can already be pieced together.
Deepening control of the Middle East
'UK covert operations appear to have begun in late 2011, a few months after popular demonstrations started challenging the Syrian regime in March of that year. Already repressive, Assad's regime resorted to violence to try to quell the protests, routinely firing into crowds, detaining thousands and subjecting many to torture.
As the number of dead at the hands of the regime mounted, so did opposition to it. The UK and its allies spotted an opportunity, which they had long been looking for, to remove an independent, nationalist regime in the region and deepen their overall control of the Middle East.
Qatar began shipping arms to opposition groups in Syria with US approval in spring 2011, and within weeks, the Obama administration was receiving reports that they were going to militant groups. By November, former CIA officer Philip Giraldi wrote that "unmarked NATO warplanes" were arriving in Turkey, delivering weapons and 600 fighters from Libya in support of the Free Syrian Army (FSA), a group of Syrian army deserters.
Britain's MI6 and French special forces were reportedly assisting the Syrian fighters and assessing their training, weapons and communications needs while the CIA provided communications equipment and intelligence.
Thus, David Cameron's government began covert action in Syria while having just overthrown Muammar Gaddafi in Libya, also working alongside Islamists. Some of the Libyan militants joining the Syrian insurgency were reportedly trained by British, French or US forces in Libya to fight Gaddafi. Some would later join the Islamic State (IS) or al-Qaeda's affiliate in Syria, al-Nusra, which became the most powerful Syrian rebel group.'
Read more: How Britain engaged in a covert operation to overthrow Assad
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