Former British defense chief Lord Richards says the recent strikes on Syria were a “missed opportunity” and has urged Prime Minister Theresa May to send troops to Syria to protect the people from their president.

During an interview with BBC Radio, Richards stressed that the West should establish a protection zone in the Syrian province of Idlib, where he believes President Bashar Assad’s forces will attack next.

He warned that hundreds of thousands are trapped and face impending fresh slaughter in the next few weeks.

Sputnik news reports: According to Richards, UK troops should be deployed to Idlib “in a defensive mode.”

Speaking about the recent US-led coalition airstrike on Syria he said, “It was the right thing to do, but I would have probably put a bit more effort into it though. I would have made it more punishing to ram home the requirement never to use chemical weapons again.”

“You could have hit airfields, and other targets. This was designed to send a narrow lesson of punishment and not to risk any wider conflagration,” he added.

“But the result is it’s a lost opportunity to change the course of the war,” Lord Richards stated.

On April 14, the United Kingdom, the United States and France launched strikes at Syria over alleged reports of a chemical attack in the city of Douma, with the three countries firing over 100 missiles at the country.

Syria’s President Bashar Assad has slammed the attack as an act of “aggression,” while Russian President Vladimir Putin stated that the airstrikes “violated the norms of international law, including the UN Charter and caused major damage to the process of peacefully settling the Syrian crisis.