Cameron: UK must attack ISIS in Syria

2015-11-26 21:11
(File, AFP)

(File, AFP)

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London - British Prime Minister David Cameron tried to persuade reluctant lawmakers to back airstrikes on the Islamic State group in Syria, saying on Thursday that the Paris attacks had given the fight new urgency and Britain owed it to key allies to act.

Cameron told the House of Commons that US President Barack Obama and French President Francois Hollande had urged Britain to join the military campaign in Syria.

"These are our closest allies and they want our help," he said.

Select committee

Cameron said if Britain didn't act after ISIS-claimed attacks in Paris that killed 130 people, friendly nations might well ask, "if not now, when?"

The Royal Air Force is part of a US-led coalition attacking the militants in Iraq, but not in Syria.

Cameron has been reluctant to seek backing for strikes in Syria since lawmakers voted down his 2013 plan to launch RAF strikes against the forces of President Bashar Assad.

Earlier this month the parliament's foreign affairs select committee urged caution, saying British airstrikes would be "incoherent" and ineffective without a plan to end Syria's four-year civil war.

Cameron replied on Thursday with a 36-page letter, arguing that Britain should act to deny the Islamic State group a "safe haven" in Syria from which to plot mass-casualty attacks around the world.

Danger of attack

He said airstrikes should be part of a "comprehensive overall strategy" to destroy ISIS, end the Syrian war and help rebuild the country.

Attempting to allay legislators' concerns, he argued that military action was legal under the UN charter's right to self-defence. And he said that while ground forces would be needed as well, they would not be British.

Cameron said airstrikes would not increase the danger of attack in Britain, already considered high and British authorities had foiled seven attacks in the past year either planned or inspired by ISIS.

Read more on:    isis  |  david cameron  |  uk  |  terrorism  |  paris attacks

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