General Lord Dannatt, ex-chief of general staff, said defeating Islamic State (ISIS) would only be achieved through military force.
Lord Dannatt led the British army between 2006-2009
He added airstrikes alone would not yield an end to the five-year long civil war – or finish off the depraved terror group.
The senior official, who led the British army between 2006-2009, said: “It is only going to be one with military defeat. From the air can help, but on the ground is where the decision is going to come.
“Conflicts are only resolved on the ground…it has got to be soldiers acting on the ground that bring a resolution, but within a diplomatic and political framework. That is what is missing in Syria.”
Lord Dannatt said the Russian’s had aptly demonstrated how to counter the extremist threat in Syria by backing the side most likely to win, despite reservations about the reported barrel-bombing of civilian areas by government forces.
He told the BBC: “The Russians are coordinating with the Assad regime and are being very successful. From the air and on the ground, they are working in a coordinating fashion.
“Our problem is that we are working with the losers. Let’s work with that regime.
“There may be an element of my enemy’s enemy is my friend, and choosing the least worst of several very unattractive options.”
Peter Ford, a former British ambassador to Syria, also blasted the UK for backing extremists disguised as moderate rebel fighters.
He argued defence chiefs were intent on removing President Bashar al-Assad despite wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya proving the difficulties in simply toppling a dictator without a comprehensive plan for what could replace them.