Former UK Ambassador to Syria Peter Ford told BBC Radio Scotland on Tuesday it makes no sense for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to gas his own people and warned a US strike on Syria could kill “scores” of Russian soldiers and trigger World War 3.

Ford said the military action we’re on the brink of taking is “risking our own safety” and it’s likely we’re being played by Jihadists who staged the attack to “produce hysteria” and trigger Western intervention.

“What the Jihadis have done is jerk our leash,” he said.

Audio of his appearance posted to YouTube has quickly gone viral:

Excerpts from RT:

“I don’t think Assad is in the least worried that the inspectors will find out his guilt – he is probably not guilty on this occasion,” he said. “We have to engage our brains as well as our emotions here, not be stampeded by those videos which are described as being unverified, but which by dint of being repeated over and over again come to acquire a spurious credibility,” Ford added. “We have to ask ourselves what are the sources in this stampede to war?”

Radio presenter Gary Robertson was having none of it. He pushed back on Ford, telling the ex-ambassador that “Assad has form [bombing his own people], and there has been fairly conclusive proof that chemical agents have been used.”

Ford replied: “The correct response is obviously to get inspectors on to the alleged sites of the alleged offences. In fact, in the last few hours Russia has offered to provide escorts for inspectors from the recognized body in this field – the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.”

Ford’s comments reflected the same concerns with intelligence sources that he expressed to the BBC a year ago. “Based on previous experience, we can see that we cannot take on face value what the so-called intelligence experts tell us,” he said, in reference to the Khan Sheikhoun chemical attack.

“In August 2016, [the Jihadis] mounted a chlorine gas attack on civilians and they tried to make it look like a regime operation. Mark my words, [the jihadis will make it look like the regime did it] and it will get the warmongers coming to tell us that Assad is defying us and we must go in more heavily into Syria.”

When questioned by Robertson as to what “would be the interest of [the jihadis] to stage these events?” A dumbfounded Ford responded that even “a child can see that the intention was to produce hysteria.”

“Now the military action that we are on the point of taking, risking our own safety. What the jihadis have done is jerk our leash,” he added.