British Prime Minister David Cameron on Tuesday admitted his claim that there were 70,000 “moderate” Syrian rebels prepared to ally with Britain in the fight against Daesh was false.
Cameron had used the claim as the centerpiece of his argument to expand the war against Daesh into Syria. He insisted the British government should rely on rebel fighters on the ground to seize Daesh-held territory after Western air strikes.
Faced with criticism over the claim, Cameron on Tuesday admitted that many of those rebels are “relatively hardline Islamists” and that there “aren’t enough” moderate rebels to actually defeat Daesh in the way Britain planned.
He added that the number “wasn’t a figure I invented,” but came from intelligence agencies as a “best estimate.” However, he refused to identify those agencies.
Cameron insisted it was necessary to keep the bulk of the details about these “moderates” secret, however, on the grounds that the Assad government might use the details to target them, and that Britain could potentially work with even the “relative hardliners” in some cases, antiwar.com reported.