David Cameron has been urged to rethink the UK's involvement in the Syrian civil war and become a "peace facilitator" between the Middle East's major powers in a bid to bring the bloody conflict to an end. Crispin Blunt, the chair of the cross-party Foreign Affairs Committee, argued such a move would be more favourable to Britain's interests than committing military forces to the country.
"The role we need to play is that of facilitator, making sure that the attention of the regional powers – Turkey, Iran and Saudi Arabia – are fully engaged in [ending the conflict] and they are not allowed to put their narrow, sectional interests ahead of the collective international interest," Blunt told IBTimes UK.
The top Conservative MP also argued that the prime minister could do further good by persuading the US and Russia to "make the necessary" compromises. The comments come after the Foreign Affairs Committee advised the government that no vote on British military intervention in the civil war should be held until ministers tabled a "coherent international strategy".
Cameron was previously defeated on the issue in 2013 when MPs voted against his proposal to bomb President Bashar al-Assad's forces. The decision was made after the Syrian leader was accused of using chemical weapons on his own people and following evidence emerging of crude "barrel bombs" being drop from helicopters on to civilian areas.
The civil war has since rumbled on and thousands have fled the nation for other countries in the Middle East and Europe. Terror group Islamic State (Isis) has also been able to establish a considerable foothold in Syria.
More recently, Russian President Vladimir Putin has committed forces to the civil war and he has claimed the Russian air force has been bombing IS targets. However, Defence Secretary Michael Fallon has claimed the Russians are hitting civilians with their deadly strikes.
Blunt explained: "The Russians have decided to intervene because of an underling anxiety that the regime was on the verge of toppling, they have made Assad their direct client and Assad is reliant on them and so is the survival of his government."
But a Kremlin spokeswoman stressed on 3 November that keeping Assad in power was "not crucial" for Russian officials. Maria Zakharova told Ekho Moskvy radio station, according to the Associated Press: "We are not saying that Assad should leave or stay."