Middle East

Syria slams British meddling after intervention signal

Syria's foreign ministry on Sunday condemned British "interference" in its affairs, after a senior government minister signalled Britain was moving closer to military action in the war-torn country.

State news agency SANA said the foreign ministry had sent two letters to United Nations chiefs which objected to "brazen standpoints" taken by British officials, and accused Britain and France of a "colonialist" agenda.

On Saturday, Chancellor George Osborne said Britain and Europe had to find a way to tackle the conflict in Syria, which has fuelled Europe's biggest refugee crisis since World War Two, and described the government of President Bashar al-Assad as "evil."

"You've got to deal with the problem at source, which is this evil Assad regime and the ISIL (Islamic State) terrorists, and you need a comprehensive plan for a more stable, peaceful Syria," Osborne told Reuters in an interview.

The Sunday Times newspaper said British Prime Minister David Cameron wanted to hold a vote in parliament in early October to pave the way for air strikes against IS in Syria, joining an international coalition led by the United States which has been carrying out such strikes for the past year.

However, Osborne said on Sunday that the government would not call such a vote unless it could guarantee opposition support. Two years ago Cameron suffered a humiliating defeat in parliament over the same issue.

French newspaper Le Monde said on Saturday that Paris was also considering air strikes in Syria against IS.

Syria's four-year-old civil war has killed an estimated quarter of a million people and driven 11 million from their homes.

(Reporting by John Davison; Editing by Mark Trevelyan)

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