May says political solution in Syria 'impossible'

I've just interviewed the prime minister about whether there is more we can and should be doing to bring a ceasefire and long-term political settlement to Aleppo and Syria.

The hideous bombing we are witnessing is indiscriminately killing children and civilians (see ITV's searing coverage of these atrocities).

Like all of us, she sees the use of barrel bombs by the Assad government, backed by Russia, on its own civilians as "heartbreaking".

But she was pessimistic of any settlement being negotiated any time soon.

"The levels of violence we are seeing, the way the Syrian regime is indiscriminately bombing its own civilians and their policy of starve or surrender, that seems to make a political solution at the moment impossible", Theresa May said.

And what about the proposals from the French for at least a temporary monitored ceasefire?

Theresa May: "We continue to believe there should be a cessation of hostilities a ceasefire - but that has to be something that can be sustained. We will of course look at the proposals the French have put forward in the security council".

Should we be putting more pressure on Russia?

Well she backed of accepting it's a British responsibility to urge President Putin to end the bombing: "It is for the international community to continue to put more pressure on Russia" she said.

"There is still an opportunity for Russia to allow that humanitarian aid to get through in Aleppo and to ensure that there can be a ceasefire such that the parties can sit down together and find what is the only long term solution for Syria which is a political solution".

Theresa May says that Russia needs to allow humanitarian aid through to Aleppo. Credit: Reuters

I asked about the extent of our responsibility to help oppressed and frightened Syrians, since arguably what is happening there is at least partly the result of our invasion of Iraq.

In response she pointed the finger of blame at Syria's President Assad, and, like her predecessor David Cameron, she insisted he could be no part of that political solution.

She said: "What is happening in Syria, the atrocious violence that is being shown against civilians in Syria, is at the hands of the Assad regime.

"And nobody should forget that. It is because President Assad started bombing his own people in Syria that the international community became concerned about what was happening and acted...

"We need a political solution, a political long term solution that sees a Syria without Assad".

May is insistent that Syria's future is one without President Assad. Credit: Reuters

I asked if she agreed with one of her most senior colleagues that it would be years and years before that political solution would be found: "As far as Syria is concerned it is for the parties to sit down and find that political solution.

"But Russia has to play its part in that. Russia has to accept that we need that humanitarian aid to get through into Aleppo.

"We need humanitarian aid to get through to people who are in absolutely desperate need in Syria and we need a political transition to a Syria without Assad".

Many Syrians fleeing the country are forced into refugee camps like this one in Jordan. Credit: Reuters

So no end in sight to this tragedy.

And for now she held out some hope that we may be able to do more to help those fleeing Syria - though only if the international community agrees to make a sharper distinction between economic migrants and those she sees as proper refugees.

Which is not a distinction everyone thinks is as simple and clear as she would like.