In Syria, limits to any foreign intervention: Britain
British Defence Minister Liam Fox said Tuesday there were "practical limitations" to any foreign intervention in Syria, despite NATO taking military action in Libya under similar conditions.
Asked why Western governments had backed armed intervention to protect civilian lives in Libya but not in Syria, Fox said "there are limitations to what we can do."
"We will do what we can to reinforce the values our countries share, but we can't do everything all the time, and we have to recognize that there are practical limitations to what our countries can do, no matter how much we would like to do so," Fox told reporters during a visit to the Pentagon.
Fox condemned the Syrian government for "killing civilians" and urged the political leadership to undertake "political reform" after activists said security forces firing live rounds and tear gas have killed at least 400 people since March 15. Scores more have been arrested.
Syria's southern town of Daraa came under sustained gunfire from troops Tuesday amid a military assault on the center of pro-democracy protests. Some 25 people were killed on Monday alone in the flashpoint town.
US Defense Secretary Robert Gates, speaking alongside Fox, said he agreed with his British counterpart on the limits of intervention.
With popular unrest sweeping the Middle East and North Africa, Gates said the same Western principles on human rights and democracy should apply to all countries.
But he added that each nation would require a "tailored" approach.
"I think that our values and principles apply to all countries, in terms of peaceful protest, in terms of the need to address political and economic grievances of populations," said Gates, a former CIA director and intelligence analyst.
"That said, our response in each country will have to be tailored to that country and to the circumstances peculiar to that country."
Gates said the NATO-led intervention in Libya also was backed by "unprecedented" diplomatic support from the Arab League, Gulf countries and the UN Security Council.
"So there was a degree of international support for this humanitarian mission and the no-fly zone that I think was unprecedented," he said.
© 2011 AFP