Friday 23 March 2018

It's time to start bombing Isil jihadists in Syria, says Britain

A man walks with the aid of a crutch past damaged buildings in the old city of Aleppo, Syria. Photo: Reuters Abdalrhman Ismail
A man walks with the aid of a crutch past damaged buildings in the old city of Aleppo, Syria. Photo: Reuters Abdalrhman Ismail

Christopher Hope

Britain is considering bombing jihadists from Isil in Syria, the country's defence secretary said last night for the first time.

Michael Fallon said it was "illogical" for Britain to take part in bombing campaigns against Isil in Iraq but not Syria.

The comments will be seen as the clearest sign that the government is considering stepping up military action against the terrorists across the Middle East.

The Defence Secretary said MPs would need to reflect on how best to confront the threat from Isil and factor in the group's failure to respect borders in the Middle East.

He told BBC Radio 4's World At One: "It is a new Parliament and I think Members of Parliament will want to think very carefully about how we best deal with Isil and the illogicality of Isil not respecting the borderlines.

"They don't differentiate between Syria and Iraq, they are establishing this evil caliphate across both countries."

Mr Fallon said that MPs in parliament would get a vote on any decision to start bombing Isil.

He said any prospective military intervention in Syria would be put before parliament unless the country faced "an imminent threat", when the government would have the right to "take action without parliamentary approval".

The news came after Mary Creagh, who was challenging to be leader of the Labour party, said the party was wrong to rule out British bombing raids on Islamic State in Syria last year.

Separately yesterday, the World Food Programme (WFP) warned in Amman that it has had to cut food aid for Syrian refugees in Lebanon by 50pc because of a funding crisis and may soon have to halt all food support for most refugees in Jordan.

Lebanon and Jordan are among five countries that host some four million Syrian war refugees. The UN refugee agency warned last week that with the Syria conflict in its fifth year, funding levels for refugee aid programmes has dropped to a dangerous low in 2015.

Many refugee families have been struggling to get by, and cuts in food aid are having a devastating effect, said Joelle Eid, spokeswoman for the WFP in Amman.

"Today, parents have to make decisions that no parent around the globe should be making," she said. "They are forced to skip meals. They are accumulating a lot of debt. They are moving their children from school and even sending their children to work."

The WFP, which has had to reduce food aid in the past because of the cash crisis, said that in July, refugee food aid in Lebanon is being cut in half, to $13.50 per person per month. About 440,000 refugees in Jordan who live outside refugee camps and currently receive food aid are escaping cuts this month, but could be left empty-handed if funds don't arrive by August, Eid said.

The WFP said it needs $139m to continue helping Syrian refugees in the region through September.

Irish Independent

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