The horrors of Middle East conflict know no bounds.

The last few weeks saw mass civilian casualties in Gaza and now we have images of a suspected British jihadist beheading US journalist James Foley in Syria.

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The Islamic State (IS) group to which the jihadist belonged is now recognised as the pre-eminent security threat to the region and beyond in terms of international terrorism. The question now is what would constitute the appropriate response to that threat?

In deciding what should be done, the spectre of our previous intervention in Iraq both frightens us and focuses the mind.

This newspaper opposed that war and is under no illusions as to what Western military intervention in Syria would mean in order to halt IS.

But reality is harsh in the Middle East. Allowing the Iraq war debacle and its ghost to stymie pressing diplomatic and military decisions about stopping IS is not an option.

Unpalatable as it might be, supporting moderate rebel fighters in Syria opposed to IS as we have the Kurds in Iraq is one way to go.

Opening dialogue with the regimes of Tehran and Damascus, both of whom have vested interests in defeating IS - albeit for different reasons - might also be considered.

What is not an option is to do nothing. Our main aim should not be to impose a solution on desperately divided countries but to end horrific slaughter and to ease suffering in whatever way we can.