Boris Johnson wants no-bombing zone in Syria

Boris Johnson has indicated a backing for a no-bombing zone in Syria. Picture: PA

Boris Johnson has indicated a backing for a no-bombing zone in Syria. Picture: PA

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Boris Johnson has suggested he wants MPs to rally behind proposals for a no-bombing zone in Syria.

The Foreign Secretary told the Commons he believes the “mood is certainly changing” in the UK for stronger action to halt the atrocities in Syria, although reiterated there is not “sufficient appetite” among Western allies.

Mr Johnson has previously judged military solutions such as a no-fly zone or no-bombing zone over Aleppo as “extremely difficult”, telling MPs last week the UK could not commit to such a scheme unless it was willing to take action against potential breaches.

This would involve shooting down planes or helicopters, with the consequences causing concern for Mr Johnson during a Commons debate last week in which increased calls to protect civilians were raised.

Speaking during Foreign Office question-time, Labour’s Alison McGovern told Mr Johnson: “Not just the Syrian opposition, (but) Syrian civil society and also NGOs in this country are calling for our Government to lead on a comprehensive strategy to protect civilians - including a no-bombing zone.

“Can I ask you to confirm that that is what our Government will take the lead in considering now?”

Mr Johnson replied to the co-chair of the all-parliamentary party group on Syria: “I’m grateful to you and again I pay tribute to the forcefulness with which you have advocated this cause.

“I wish, I must say, three years ago the Opposition had then been as resolute in wishing to see that kind of engagement to protect the people of Syria because a critical decision was taken then which has... made it much more difficult for us today.

“I want to see the will of this House of Commons clearly expressed in support of what you have said.”

Earlier, Labour MP John Woodcock (Barrow and Furness) told Mr Johnson: “In response to this and other atrocities, last week in the Commons you said that more kinetic options should be considered but then only yesterday - or the day before - emerging from your talks you said there was little interest, to say the least.

“Please reassure the House that the UK will play its full role in urging other nations that this may be the only way to make Russia back down.”

Mr Johnson replied: “I think the mood is certainly changing in this country.

“I do not yet detect a sufficient appetite in the capitals of the West and certainly not yet in the White House for the kind of action I think could be useful.

“But as (US Secretary of State John Kerry) said, nothing is off the table.”

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