By Deborah Sherwood, The Daily Star
BRITAIN is gearing up for fighting in Syria that could be bigger and bloodier than the battle against Gaddafi.
The Ministry of Defence is drawing up secret plans for a NATO-sponsored no-fly zone but first it needs backing from the United Nations Security Council.
As the unrest and killings escalate in the troubled Arab state, agents from MI6 and the CIA are already in Syria assessing the situation, a security official has revealed.
Special forces are also talking to Syrian dissident soldiers.
They want to know about weapons and communications kit rebel forces will need if the Government decides to help.
“MI6 and the CIA are in Syria to infiltrate and get at the truth,” said the well-placed source.
“We have SAS and SBS not far away who want to know what is happening and are finding out what kit dissident soldiers need.
“Syria supports Hezbollah. That threatens Israel and the whole of the Middle East.
“This has been given the highest priority as the whole thing could implode.
“This is all going like Libya but this will be bigger and bloodier.
“Syria is killing civilians. It’s looking bad all round.”
The NATO-backed flight ban over Syria has been discussed by the British Cabinet’s National Security Council.
And the Ministry of Defence has made provisional plans to implement any government order. The security source revealed military planners are considering the use of Tornado GR4 attack fighters and other aircraft.
NATO forces took eight months to oust Gaddafi with his army of mercenaries. But they accept that the Syrian forces are far better trained and armed.
Their airforce has highly-rated MiG29 Russian jet fighters.
The Foreign and Commonwealth office has warned Prime Minister David Cameron that a UN Security Council sanction would be required before any action. But it is likely to be vetoed by Russia or China. But if killings in Syria escalate even further then the UN will come under intense pressure to take action.
American Republicans have called for a no-fly zone, while the Arab League is considering a similar plan with Turkish warplanes tipped to take the lead.
A Ministry of Defence spokesman said: “It is all speculation.
“It is not our job yet. We are looking at what-ifs all the time.”
A Foreign Office spokesman said: “We are monitoring the situation in Syria. We are obviously very concerned about increasing violence and we are calling for an end to the killings.”