MOD trained members of Syrian army in UK

The Ministry of Defence has trained members of the brutal Syrian army in the UK over the last decade, the SNP can reveal

A response to a Parliamentary Question from SNP Westminster Defence spokesperson Angus Robertson MP shows that the UK’s armed forces have actively trained members of the Syrian Army in at least 8 of the last years since 2001. The training took place at MoD bases and facilities here in the United Kingdom, and occurred as recently as 2010.

According to Defence Minister Nick Harvey, ‘The Ministry of Defence has a long tradition of training international military and civilian personnel at its training establishments throughout the United Kingdom. Much of the training covers a range of activities in support of bilateral defence relationships in order to strengthen international security and co-operation.’

Given the recent activities of the Syrian Army against its own civilians, serious questions must be asked about what exactly this training was for. The MoD and the FCO must explain why they trained members of the Syrian Armed forces, and what exactly that training was.

This action puts under scrutiny the judgement of both the previous Labour government and the current government, particularly as to why giving military training to a dictator would ‘strengthen international security and co-operation’.

Commenting, Mr Robertson said:

“While I do not doubt the sincerity of current Ministers in their condemnation of events in Syria, there is a terrible paradox that the UK Government has played, until recently, a role in training the Syrian forces now engaged in this bloody destruction.

“The Ministry of Defence and Foreign Office must both explain why they trained members of the Syrian Armed forces in the UK, and what exactly the nature of that training was. It is incredible that this was happening as recently as 2010.

“We used to hear a lot of talk about ethical foreign policies – until the disastrous, illegal war in Iraq – and these revelations further call into question the judgement of the previous Labour government as well as current Tory/Lib Dem Ministers. How on earth does giving military training to a dictator ‘strengthen international security and co-operation’?

“The UK Government keeps making really bad decisions on defence. With independence we can make better defence and foreign policy decisions in Scotland, and not leave it to London.”


Angus Robertson PQ [57709]

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