Cameron given all clear to bomb terrorist 'psychopaths'
Britain cleared the way for an immediate bombing campaign against "psychopathic" Isil terrorists in Iraq yesterday.
Prime Minister David Cameron gave his clearest sign yet that he would like to join the US in hitting Isil in Syria.
"I am very clear that Isil needs to be destroyed in Syria as well as in Iraq," he told the House of Commons. "I believe that there is a strong case for us to do more in Syria."
He admitted that Syria was a "more complicated" issue than Iraq, where the new government has formally requested UK military support.
But he brushed aside legal doubts about action in Syria. "I do not believe there is a legal barrier because I think that the legal advice is clear that, were we or others to act, there is a legal basis," he said.
MPs voted overwhelmingly by 524 to 43 in favour of strikes.
Six Tornado warplanes supported by a Voyager refuelling tanker have been at RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus since mid-August and could be ready to begin air strikes within hours.
Sources said the Tornados could quickly be fitted with Paveway IV guided bombs or Brimstone missiles to carry out strikes on Isil vehicles and convoys.
Although a clear consensus emerged backing strikes in Iraq many MPs questioned why they were not being extended into Syria.
Mr Cameron said he hoped to build a "consensus" on the issue of extending strikes to Syria and was prepared to intervene in Syria without seeking a vote in Parliament if it would avert a "humanitarian catastrophe".
The motion approved yesterday promised MPs a fresh vote before any intervention in Syria, but Mr Cameron also kept open the option of authorising emergency action in Syria - either to tackle a humanitarian crisis or in Britain's national interests.
In this case, MPs would be asked as soon as possible for retrospective approval, he said.
Mr Cameron would probably need Labour's support to win a majority. A Labour spokesman said last night: "Without a clear plan for military activity in Syria, we are not giving the Government a blank cheque."
But Labour Party leader Ed Miliband is not ruling out action in Syria.
He wants an attempt made at the UN to secure approval for action there, but is not making a UN resolution a condition of his support.
He wants Mr Cameron to spell out which countries would send troops to fight in Syria.
Mr Miliband faced calls from more than a dozen MPs from all three main parties to take a stronger stance amid concerns that air strikes in Iraq alone will be meaningless.
Opening the debate in Parliament, Mr Cameron said: "Let me address very directly this issue of Isil in Syria. I am very clear: Isil needs to be destroyed in Syria as well as Iraq. We support the action that the US and five Arab states have taken in Syria.
Labour MPs and peers led the calls for further action, with former Cabinet minister Peter Hain describing Syria as the "elephant in the room". "Simply allowing Isil to retreat across an invisible border is no answer," he said.
Pat McFadden, a former Labour business minister, said: "Syria is now the headquarters of global jihad. Why is it right to carry out such actions against Isil in Iraq, but not in Syria?"
Earlier Mr Miliband told MPs: "When we are not talking about being invited in by a democratic state, it would be better - I put it no higher than that - to seek a UN Security Council resolution. That is the highest multilateral institution of the world."
Yesterday British Defence Secretary Michael Fallon, told BBC Radio 4: "Isil is based in Syria. That's where its headquarters are, that's where its resources, its people, are.
"They have crossed the border into Iraq and to deal with Isil you do have to deal [with] and defeat them in both Iraq and in Syria." He added: "The Prime Minister made it clear that to defeat Isil we have to do it in both countries, so the logic follows."
(© Daily Telegraph, London)