Cameron wants UK to join Syria strikes

Cameron wants UK to join Syria strikes
British Prime Minister David Cameron said in Paris on Monday that UK should carry out military airstrikes alongside France and other partners in Syria to defeat Islamic State.
4 min read
23 November, 2015

British Prime Minister David Cameron will begin to lay out his case this week for the Royal Air Force to start hitting Islamic State targets in Syria, something he has been eager to do but feared being blocked by Parliament.

Cameron will address MPs on Thursday to make his case, before a vote on the issue expected at a later date.

"On Thursday I will come to this house to make a statement" on the air campaign, Cameron said on Monday as he announced increases in military spending.

Speaking in Paris on Monday after meeting French President Francois Hollande, Cameron said the two leaders agreed to increase counterterrorism cooperation after the attacks.

He called for greater European Union-wide efforts to share intelligence to stop extremists and offered the use of RAF Akrotiri on Cyprus for anti-Islamic State actions in Syria.

     The United Kingdom will do all in our power to support our friend and ally France to defeat this evil death cult

"The United Kingdom will do all in our power to support our friend and ally France to defeat this evil death cult," he said.

Cameron lost a vote in Parliament two years ago to allow attacks on Syria, and has been reluctant to even suggest a vote until he could be certain to win.

The RAF is already participating in airstrikes in Iraq.

Cameron has argued that Britain's "precision missions" would allow better targeting and lead to fewer civilian casualties than American weapons.

Britain's arsenal includes the Brimstone missile, whose technology enables it to ensure accuracy against moving targets, such as gun trucks used by Islamic State group militants.

Defence Secretary Michael Fallon told the BBC that Britain had capabilities to offer the coalition.

"We have a highly skilled air force. The Tornadoes that we have been deploying in Iraq have a high-precision missile, the Brimstone missile, that nobody else has, that reduces, eliminates, civilian casualties because it is so precise," he said.

"The rest of the coalition would like to see the RAF engaged in Syria. It makes very little sense for the RAF to be able to fly as far as a border between Iraq and Syria that (the Islamic State group) itself does not recognise."

Cameron also announced details of a plan in case of major terror attacks like the ones in Paris on 13 November in which 130 people were killed.

"I can tell the House today that we have put in place a significant new contingency plan to deal with major terrorist attacks," he said.

"Under this new operation, up to 10,000 military personnel will be available to support the police in dealing with the type of shocking terrorist attack we have seen in Paris," he said.

In a speech to parliament, Cameron pledged an extra £12 billion ($18.2 billion, 17.1 billion euros) for the military.

"This is vital at a time when the threats to our country are growing," he said.

He also underlined that increased security would help the British economy.

"Our prosperity depends on trade around the world. Engagement is not an optional extra," he said.

Britain pledges strong support to France

Cameron also pledged strong support to France in its bid to gain international backing for efforts to crush the Islamic State group in the wake of the Paris attacks.

"I firmly support the action President Hollande has taken to strike ISIL in Syria," Cameron said after talks in Paris, using another acronym for IS.

"It's my firm conviction that Britain should do so too," he added.

The British leader also said he had offered France the use of a British airbase in Cyprus for airstrikes, and assistance with refuelling French jets.

"Today I've offered President Hollande the use of RAF Akrotiri for French aircraft engaged in counter-ISIL operations and additional assistance with air-to-air refuelling," Cameron said in a statement to reporters alongside Hollande, using another term for IS.

Earlier, the two leaders had laid a wreath at the Bataclan concert venue in Paris where extremist attackers killed 90 people on 13 November.

A British man was among the dead at the venue.