LONDON/BEIRUT - International military chiefs met in London to discuss the Syria conflict, a diplomatic source said Tuesday, after a report that they discussed plans to train rebels and give air and naval support.

General David Richards, the head of Britain’s armed forces, held talks recently in London with military leaders from France, Turkey, Jordan, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and a US general, the Independent newspaper reported.

A British diplomatic source confirmed that the military leaders had held talks, but played down the idea that they discussed military intervention against the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. “What they were doing was sharing analysis about the situation on the ground and the strategic overview to help think through issues,” the British diplomatic source said.

“As far as I know they didn’t explore options in any detail, certainly they didn’t explore options for military intervention.” The source added: “There are not any plans for military intervention.” The Independent however said that during the meeting, which was organised at the request of Prime Minister David Cameron, the military chiefs held detailed strategic discussions about how to help the Syrian rebels.

Britain, France and the United States have pledged not to put “boots on the ground” to help the rebels, meaning Turkey would most likely host the training camps, the Independent said.

Britain’s Ministry of Defence would not confirm the report and repeated its commitment to finding a diplomatic end to the conflict.

“In the absence of a political and diplomatic solution, we will not rule out any option in accordance with international law that might save innocent lives in Syria,” an MoD spokesman said. He said Britain continued to discuss a “range of contingency plans with our partners, including the US” but refused to discuss details.

But the meeting reflects the growing international momentum towards ending the conflict in Syria. Cameron held talks in London on Tuesday with Jordan’s King Abdullah II during which they discussed the situation in Syria.

His Downing Street office said they “agreed on the need for international action to end the conflict through a political transition” and to respond to the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Syria. They also agreed on the need to support Syria’s new national opposition coalition “as they continue to establish themselves as a credible, democratic and inclusive alternative to the Assad regime.”

Talk of arming the rebels has increased in recent weeks since the establishment of the coalition, with Britain saying last week it would press its European partners in March to amend the arms embargo on Syria to allow them to provide weapons to the opposition.

Washington put a key Syrian rebel group on its terror blacklist on Tuesday citing Al-Qaeda links, a day after the fighter action showed its power in the battlefield by capturing a key army base.

The US move came amid growing Western concern that Al-Qaeda loyalists have been hijacking the 21-month revolt against President Bashar al-Assad’s rule and could turn any weaponry supplied to the rebels against Western targets. Washington balanced its move with the announcement of fresh sanctions against pro-Assad militias.

But the blacklist of the Al-Nusra Front marked a major shift in US policy towards the rebels which had previously been tolerant of the large Islamist element within their ranks.

The US State Department said that despite its efforts to portray itself as part of the legitimate Syrian opposition, Al-Nusra was a front for the Al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) organisation that mounted a deadly insurgency against US troops in Syria’s eastern neighbour which peaked in 2006-7.

“It is, in fact, an attempt by AQI to hijack the struggles of the Syrian people for its own malign purposes,” it said.

US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta said Syria had not taken any new steps in recent days that signal a readiness to use its arsenal.

“At this point the intelligence has really kind of levelled off. We haven’t seen anything new indicating any aggressive steps to move forward in that way,” Panetta told reporters aboard his plane before landing in Kuwait.

A series of bomb attacks on a village in central Syria mainly inhabited by members of President Bashar al-Assad’s Alawite minority on Tuesday left more than 125 civilian casualties, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. The bombings struck the village of Aqrab in Hama province, the Britain-based watchdog said, adding that it could not immediately give an exact death toll. In Aleppo, fierce clashes raged between troops and rebels around a major infantry academy at the northern entrance of the city, as insurgents attempted to storm the school compound on Tuesday, a watchdog said. The sprawling military school, located close to the town of Muslimiyeh near the Hanadarat Palestinian refugee camp, houses approximately 3,000 soldiers, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

According to the Britain-based watchdog, the rebels encircled the academy - which is still in operation - just over two weeks ago, after taking control of a large agriculture building on the compound.

In Damascus, the army shelled southern districts of the city while security forces raided several areas of the nearby Midan district, the Observatory said.