Henry Smith MP: Statement on extending UK air strikes against ISIL/Daesh to Syria
Today, Parliament will vote on whether the United Kingdom conducts air strikes against ISIL/Daesh in Syria.
This will not be the start of a new conflict – Great Britain is already engaged in air strikes against this enemy in Iraq. ISIL/Daesh do not recognise the border with Syria, this should not prevent us targeting their headquarters in Syria.
I will be supporting the Government’s motion which I have reproduced in full below.
Last month I was in Iraqi Kurdistan where I spent some time on the front line south of Kirkuk, with Peshmerga soldiers who are successfully combatting ISIL/Daesh.
The soldiers, families, communities and refugees I directly spoke with are very grateful for the support of RAF air cover in helping them counter terror and extremism.
The recent Paris attacks go some way to put this in context – ISIL/Daesh know they are losing and so are lashing out.
Any parliamentary vote on military action requires careful consideration by MPs on all sides of the House of Commons.
While I do not pretend that everyone in Crawley will agree with my position, I will be voting for what I believe is the right course of action for the United Kingdom to take in protecting us at home and vulnerable victims of ISIL/Daesh – the children, women and men as well as minorities in Syria.
In October 2015, the Foreign Affairs Select Committee of Parliament published a report on the extension of offensive British military operations to Syria. In the House of Commons on 26th November, the Prime Minister set out, in a 36-page document, his response to this report, outlining the importance of the United Kingdom playing a further role against ISIL/Daesh.
The Prime Minister told the House of Commons:
“And this is further underscored by the unanimous adoption of UN Security Council Resolution 2249.
“We should be clear about what this resolution means and what it says.
“The whole world came together – including all 5 members of the Security Council – to agree this resolution unanimously.
“The resolution states that ISIL, and I quote: “constitutes a global and unprecedented threat to international peace and security.”
“It calls for member states, and again I quote: to take “all necessary measures” to prevent and suppress terrorist acts committed specifically by ISIL…
“…and crucially is says that we should, and again I quote: “eradicate the safe haven they have established over significant parts of Iraq and Syria.””
ISIL/Daesh are a totalitarian death cult who have shown that they do not have any regard for human life. We cannot reason with such an ideology.
While the UK has been conducting air strikes against ISIL/Daesh in Iraq for 15 months, I was reassured to hear the Prime Minister say that there have been no reports of civilian casualties.
The Government have been working with Members of Parliament on all sides, and took concerns on board when putting together the text of the motion to be debated in the House of Commons today.
Alongside plans for air strikes in Syria, the Government fully supports the Vienna talks.
Earlier today, the Foreign Secretary said that either we take the fight to ISIL/Daesh, or we wait for them to bring the fight to us. Indeed we are already a target - this year alone British security services have foiled seven Paris style attacks in the last year planned to murder us here at home. France was opposed to the 2003 Iraq conflict but nevertheless their capital was brutally targeted in November.
I believe we have a moral responsibility to not just act against a threat to our country, but to help protect people in the region who are being targeted. ISIL/Daesh are literally burning people alive, as one of the various sadistic ways they punish people who do not subscribe to their perverted interpretation of Islam.
British forces are already conducting air strikes against ISIL/Daesh in Iraq. I believe this action must be extended to Syria.
Full text of the Government motion:
ISIL IN SYRIA (UNITED NATIONS SECURITY COUNCIL RESOLUTION 2249)
The Prime Minister
The Chancellor of the Exchequer
Secretary Theresa May
Secretary Philip Hammond
Secretary Michael Fallon
Secretary Justine Greening
That this House notes that ISIL poses a direct threat to the United Kingdom; welcomes United Nations Security Council Resolution 2249 which determines that ISIL constitutes an 'unprecedented threat to international peace and security' and calls on states to take 'all necessary measures' to prevent terrorist acts by ISIL and to 'eradicate the safe haven they have established over significant parts of Iraq and Syria'; further notes the clear legal basis to defend the UK and our allies in accordance with the UN Charter; notes that military action against ISIL is only one component of a broader strategy to bring peace and stability to Syria; welcomes the renewed impetus behind the Vienna talks on a ceasefire and political settlement; welcomes the Government's continuing commitment to providing humanitarian support to Syrian refugees; underlines the importance of planning for post-conflict stabilisation and reconstruction in Syria; welcomes the Government’s continued determination to cut ISIL’s sources of finance, fighters and weapons; notes the requests from France, the US and regional allies for UK military assistance; acknowledges the importance of seeking to avoid civilian casualties, using the UK’s particular capabilities; notes the Government will not deploy UK troops in ground combat operations; welcomes the Government's commitment to provide quarterly progress reports to the House; and accordingly supports Her Majesty's Government in taking military action, specifically airstrikes, exclusively against ISIL in Syria; and offers its wholehearted support to Her Majesty's Armed Forces.