The UK could send troops to Syria after a peace agreement is brokered between Bashar al-Assad and opposition parties, Boris Johnson suggested on Thursday (26 January). The Foreign Secretary told a group of peers that he could "certainly imagine" British armed forces playing a peacekeeping role in the war-torn Middle Eastern nation.
But such a move would only follow a Dayton-style peace agreement, a reference to the 1995 deal which helped end the Bosnian War, according to Johnson.
"The House of Commons has been very clear that they don't want to engage British armed forces on the ground in any firefights in Syria so that's something we have ruled out – rightly or wrongly," he told the House of Lords International Affairs Committee.
"It may be that when it comes to a solution, when it comes to the implementation to a Dayton-style accord in Syria... I can certainly imagine that the UK, with its formidable track-record as peace keepers... I can certainly imagine that we would want to be involved in that."
Johnson, who described Russian involvement in Syria as a "fact of life", said he wanted to see a "democratic resolution" – a referendum or general election to help end hostilities.
"The Committee will be aware that the last time Assad had an election in Syria I think his only opponent concluded his eve-of-poll rally by urging everyone to vote for Assad," the foreign secretary said.
"I would hope that it would be possible to have a plebiscite or an election which is properly supervised by the UN... We believe in democracy, we support democracy and if there's a political solution, then I don't think that we can really avoid such a democratic event."
British military intervention in Syria was voted down by the Commons in 2013. The decision was a defeat for former Prime Minister David Cameron, who called for intervention amid claims pro-Assad forces had used chemical weapons in Damascus.
But MPs backed Cameron when he called for airstrikes on Islamic State (Isis) targets in Syria in 2015. Russia, Turkey and Iran agreed to enforce a three-way ceasefire on Tuesday (24 January), in a bid to end the six-year-long conflict.
More than 300,000 people have been killed due to the bloody civil war, according to the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (Sohr).
Johnson, elsewhere, stressed that the British government's "objection to torture remains unchanged". The senior Conservative's comments coincide with Theresa May's trip to the United States to meet with Donald Trump on Friday.
The Republican president is reportedly planning to sign an executive order to re-open so called "black sites". The secret detention centres became synonymous with torture during George W. Bush's War on Terror.