The United Kingdom's special representative for Syria, Gareth Bayley, has accused Syrian President Bashar al-Assad of being a "recruiting sergeant" for the Islamic State (IS) group, and said that Assad and IS are "two sides of [the] same coin."
Bayley made his comments in an open question-and-answer session on Twitter on March 12, where Twitter users were invited to ask questions about the United Kingdom's position on the Syrian crisis.
Insisting that there was "no military solution" to the Syrian crisis, Bayley said that a political settlement "needs pressure to be achieved." Meanwhile, in the fight against the IS group in Syria, Assad is "part of the problem," he added.
"We want a political solution but Assad is a recruiting sergeant for ISIL -- he's part of the problem," Bayley tweeted, using another acronym for the IS group.
On the topic of a political solution in Syria, Bayley said that Britain supported an inclusive government in Syria.
Referring to comments by British Prime Minister David Cameron, who said in September that Syria needed "an inclusive, democratic government that can look after the needs of all its people," Bayley said that Britain supported building up Syria's moderate opposition.
"Syrians want a democracy that represents all Syrians, that is why we support the Syrian National Coalition," Bayley tweeted, referring to the coalition of opposition groups in the Syrian civil war that has been recognized by the European Union as "legitimate representatives of the aspirations of the Syrian people." Bayley said a "strong opposition, with National Coalition at [the] heart and lead" was "central" to a political settlement in Syria.
"The moderate opposition are everything that ISIL and Assad are not: democratic, law-abiding and inclusive," Bayley tweeted.
Regarding the actions of the U.S.-led coalition against the IS group in Iraq and Syria, Bayley said that air strikes against the militants were "effective."
Britain has conducted over 200 "successful combat missions," Bayley tweeted.
The U.K. military launched its first air strikes as part of the U.S.-led anti-IS coalition on September 30. In January, the British media reported that British troops were expected to begin training Syrian opposition groups to fight IS militants by the end of March.
According to Bayley, British "technical and nonlethal support" in Syria was working for a political solution as well as to tackle "extremism and Assad."
-- Joanna Paraszczuk