Defence Secretary Michael Fallon is to ask MP’s to consider allowing Britain to bomb Islamic State targets in Syria it has been learned. Currently, the Royal Air Force are engaged in combat against Islamic State in Iraq.
The UK already have a multitude of assets in Iraq as part of Operation Shader, in Iraq including Tornado GR4 strike aircraft, Reaper unmanned combat aerial vehicles, Sentinel R1 ISTAR aircraft, RC-135W Rivet Joint reconnaissance aircraft and other assets, deploying to Syria wouldn’t require significant logistical changes. On 21 October, the United Kingdom also started performing surveillance flights over Syria.
Technically, the government does not need the backing of parliament to launch strikes against Islamic State (IS) in Syria but but Mr Fallon has said the House of Commons will have the final say, following a newly established precedent of asking parliament.
He is expected to suggest terrorist attacks such as the tourist murders in Tunisia, may have been planned by Islamic State in Syria. The BBC reported that Fallon claimed there was an “illogicality” of British forces observing the Iraq-Syria border when IS “don’t differentiate” between the two countries and moves freely between them. He will insist that there is no legal barrier to British military attacks and point out that both the Canadian and Jordanian air forces have already attacked Syrian targets.
Speaking on BBC Radio 4 Fallon said:
“There’s no legal bar to us operating in Syria but we don’t have the parliamentary approval for it. We’ve always been clear that IS has to be defeated in both Syria and Iraq. We have plenty to do in Iraq. Each member of the coalition is doing different things. IS is organised and directed and administered from Syria. There is an illogicality about not being able to do it.”
The government was defeated in 2014 when parliament voted against military action against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government by 285-272.
Fallon will make his comments in Thursday’s debate in parliament on Britain and international security.