Britain had planned to train and equip a 100,000-strong rebel army to defeat Syrian President Bashar al-Assad before it was deemed to be excessively speculative.
The secret “extract, equip, train” proposal, put forward two years ago, was the mind of General David Richards, then head of Britain’s defence. A spokesman for the UK Ministry of Defense declined to notice on the article.
The private initiative was taken by Prime Minister David Cameron and the National Security Council, as well as U.S. officials, the news agency said, citing Whitehall sources.
Richards’s initiative proposed vetting and training “a substantial army” of moderate Syrian rebels at bases in Turkey and Jordan.
The United Nations says some 10.8 million people in Syria need assistance, of which 4.7 million are in hard-to-reach areas, while another three million have fled during the three-year rebellion against al-Assad.