Cameron asks Parliament to back fight against IS

Last Updated 26 September 2014, 15:58 IST

Prime Minister David Cameron recalled Parliament today and made a case for the UK to join US-led air strikes against Islamic State (IS) terror network in Iraq which he warned could "not just take months but years".

Cameron told MPs that IS poses a "clear and proven" threat to British lives and was a "brutal", well-funded "terrorist organisation" that had destabilised Iraq and Syria.

"This is going to be a mission that will take not just months but years but I believe we have to be prepared for that commitment," he said while answering a question on the length and scope of the mission in the House of Commons debate.

He stressed that it was in the UK's interest to join in bombings in Iraq against IS and there was "no legal barrier" to similar action in Syria.

The strikes could be launched within hours of a Parliament vote on the issue as Cameron told MPs there is a "strong case" for UK military intervention in Iraq and Syria.

Cameron said that Islamic militants "have already murdered one British hostage" and are "threatening the lives of two more".

He said, "The brutality is staggering - beheadings, crucifixions, the gouging out of eyes, the use of rape as a weapon, the slaughter of children. All of these things belong to the dark ages.

"This is not a threat on the far side of the world. Left unchecked we will face a terrorist caliphate on the shores of the Mediterranean and bordering a NATO member with a declared and a proven determination to attack our country and our people."

Parliament is due to vote on UK involvement at the end of a seven-hour debate in the House of Commons later this evening. If the vote is passed, the UK would join the US and France in launching targeted strikes on the IS group in Iraq.

All three main political parties in the UK – the Conservatives, Liberal Democrats and Labour –back UK military participation in bombings against IS in Iraq, which the coalition says is legal because it was requested by the Iraqi government.

The British PM described IS as "a terrorist organisation unlike those we have dealt with before".

Opening the Commons debate, Cameron said the threat posed by IS was not "on the far side of the world" and it had already been responsible for one major attack in Europe and a number of other plots had been foiled.

"This is not the stuff of fantasy. It is happening in front of us and we need to face up to it," he said.

IS, he said, had "already declared war on us and there was no walk on-by option".

"It is our duty to take part. It is about protecting people on the streets of Britain," he added.

IS has seized large parts of Iraq and Syria in recent months. The group, also known as ISIS or ISIL, has used tactics that have included beheadings of soldiers, Western journalists and aid workers.

British aid worker David Haines was beheaded by the terror group. Haines, 44, was seized in Syria in 2013 and was being held by IS militants who have already killed two US journalists.

The government does not have to seek the approval of MPs to commence military action, but it has become customary to do so since this first happened over the Iraq war in 2003.

About 179 British personnel died in Iraq between 2003 and 2009 and the last British troops left the country only in 2011. Around 500 Britons are believed to have travelled to fight with IS.
(Published 26 September 2014, 15:57 IST)

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