Britain has secretly considered a military plan to send 1,000 British troops to Syria after US President Donald Trump announced a decision to withdraw in December, the Telegraph said.
British Prime Minister back then Theresa May feared that the US withdrawal from Syria would lead to the return of ISIS and the accompanying threat to Britain.
The proposal included the formation of a joint military force between Britain and France, so that the US troops replaced with a similar number of British and French troops, then numbering two thousand soldiers, with the burden to share both countries.
The proposal included the deployment of British elite forces, such as paratroopers and US naval forces, and May worked on the proposal so secretly that ministers in her government were unaware of her plan.
May retracted her proposal after she was skeptical about the US commitment to providing air cover and logistical support to ground forces in Syria.
She also feared she would end up voting against her decision in the House of Commons.
The British proposal confirmed this to at least 10 British and American officials.
“A very serious idea was the idea”, said a British source familiar with the proposal.
It was not just an idea that came to mind”.
A British defense source said: “The idea from this step was to deploy forces very similar to the American forces, so as to ensure the same fighting force.”
The UK government spokesman didn’t confirm or deny May’s proposal.
The British proposal was based on the risks of a US withdrawal from Syria, where May and her advisers discussed the damage to be done in Britain because of a sudden change in US policy after Trump’s December 19 tweet last year, in which he said he would withdraw all US troops.
The proposal also reveals that Britain is still prepared to participate militarily in the Middle East wars, despite the consequences of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
May’s proposal was supported by Gavin Williamson, then secretary of defense, who saw Britain as a threat to it because of thousands of ISIS fighters being held in Syria.
Only a few people involved in the proposal, and other ministers, such as Security Minister Ben Wallace and Alistair Burt, the British Secretary of State for Middle East and Development Affairs, were briefed on the US commitment to providing the necessary air and logistical support to British forces.
May also faced another obstacle in the House of Commons, where she had to get a vote because the plan wasn’t limited to ordinary military units; it included the deployment of special forces.
May was in a battle over her plans to withdraw from the European Union, so she felt she would not get approval.
May retreated in May, after Trump agreed to keep 1,000 US troops after he faced harsh criticism over his sudden decision to withdraw.