UK Prime Minister David Cameron says he’ll present a “comprehensive strategy” to deal with “Islamic State” in Syria. In his first parliamentary question time since the Paris attacks, he said airstrikes were on the table.
Despite losing a parliamentary vote two years ago over whether Britain’s should told an international coalition to launch airstrikes on Syria, Prime Minister David Cameron told parliament on Tuesday the issue was back on the table, following the Paris attacks.
Cameron told British MPs that he would present a “comprehensive strategy” for tackling the “Islamic State” (IS) group and that the plan would include airstrikes the jihadists’ positions in Syria. But he stopped short of committing himself to try for a second time for parliamentary approval.
British jets are part of the US-led coalition against IS in Iraq but not Syria.
“We cannot expect, we should not expect, others to carry the burdens and risks of protecting our country,” Cameron told parliament during his first Prime Minister’s Questions since Friday evening’s tragedy, which left 129 people dead and resulted in hundreds of casualties.
“Our allies are asking us to do this, and the case for doing so has only grown stronger after the Paris attacks,” he said, adding that he wanted to do the “right thing for our country.”
Previously, the center-right leader has said he would wait until he is sure of a parliamentary victory before submitting plans for military action in Syria to MPs for a second time.
Second vote possible
In 2013, the vote’s failure was a major embarrassment for Cameron and was criticized by British military chiefs. It also caused a setback for US President Obama’s plans for an international coalition to fight back against IS in Syria.
Since then more than 60 countries are participating, including more recently, France.
On Tuesday, US Secretary of State John Kerry hinted that Washington would be prepared to work with Russia in the conflict against IS militants, subject to progress in the political process to end the Syrian war.
Moscow is conducting is own airstrikes in Syria, which is says are targeted at IS positions.
Paris and Moscow announced on Tuesday they would step up cooperation in Syria.
Corbyn in the way
The leader of Britain’s main opposition Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, opposes extending the strikes to Syria and has called on his party to follow his lead.
But his viewpoint is not shared by many Labour MPs, and Cameron will look to find friends among his more centrist Left opponents to break ranks when it comes to a vote.
Also on Tuesday, Cameron took aim at veteran peace campaigner Corbyn, suggesting that he would rather put Britain at risk rather than bomb militants in Syria.
He told parliament: “In this situation we do not protect the British people by sitting back and wishing that things were different. We have to act to keep our people safe and that is what this government will always do.”
Corbyn, who was chosen as leader over better-known rivals on a wave of enthusiasm for change, has come under fire from some Labour lawmakers for saying he was “not happy with the shoot-to-kill policy” in the event of an attack in Britain.
mm/kms (AFP, AP, Reuters)