Britain will not work with embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to fight militants from Islamic State (formerly ISIS), the foreign secretary has said.
Philip Hammond told the BBC that working with Assad would not be “practical, sensible or helpful”, and just because they may be fighting the same adversary that does not make Assad their ally.
Hammond’s comments come in the wake of calls from former head of the Army Lord Dannatt and ex-Foreign Secretary Sir Malcolm Rifkind to work with Assad and address the growing threat to the UK by the jihadist group.
The UK has called for the removal of Assad as a result of his actions in the Syrian conflict in order for the country to move past the violence and create a new stable democratic country.
The Islamic State is in control of large swathes of Syria and Iraq, and its military successes and brutal tactics have attracted hundreds of young Muslims from across Europe. As these people are radicalised in the theatre of war they pose a threat as they return to the UK, France, and other countries.
Western jihadis are used in videos by ISIS for shock effect and recruitment purposes, with the recent beheading of US reporter James Foley by an militant with a British accent a prime example.
British intelligence services are closing in on finding the identity of the executioner believed to use the name “John” and is described as one of the “black Beatles” by prisoners under his guard in Raqqa, the Syrian city the Islamic State has made its capital.