24 Sep 2014

Britain prepares to join fight against Islamic State in Iraq

Britain could recall of parliament to discuss military action in the Middle East after David Cameron warns the fight against Islamic State was one the UK “could not opt out of”.

The United States military on Wednesday confirmed it had launched five more airstrikes targeting Islamic State in Syria and Iraq in the latest round of attacks on the militant group.

One strike hit Syria northwest of the Iraqi city of Al Qa’im, US Central Command said in a statement. Two strikes hit were west of Baghdad and two southeast of Irbil in Iraq.

The latest strikes on Tuesday and Wednesday destroyed two Islamic State armed vehicles, eight other vehicles, a weapons cache and fighting positions, the statement said.

On Wednesday a group of Algerian militants who have recently allied themselves to Islamic State issued a statement claiming that they had murdered a French tourist, Hervel Goudel, who they kidnapped in a mountainous region of Algeria. Mr Goudel’s death has not been confirmed by the French or Algerial governments.

Request for help

Mr Cameron is likely to receive a formal Iraqi request for UK involvement in air strikes when he meets Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Abadi, head of the new inclusive administration in Baghdad on Wednesday.

And he will become the first British prime minister since the Islamic Revolution 35 years ago to hold face-to-face talks with an Iranian president, as he seeks to enlist Hassan Rouhani into the international coalition being assembled by US president Barack Obama to tackle the Sunni extremists.

Mr Cameron on Tuesday laid out a stark warning that IS is planning terror attacks in Britain, Europe and the US, saying: “This is a fight you cannot opt out of. These people want to kill us. They’ve got us in their sights.”

Speaking to US TV channel NBC, the prime minister said there was “no doubt in my mind” that IS was to blame for the murder of four people at a Jewish Museum in Brussels in May and was planning further outrages in the west.

These people want to kill us. They’ve got us in their sights and we have to put together this coalition. David Cameron

“There are other plots they have been attempting, including in my own country, in order to kill and maim innocent people,” said the prime minister.

“And the same applies to the United States of America.

“So this is a fight you cannot opt out of. These people want to kill us. They’ve got us in their sights and we have to put together this coalition … to make sure that we ultimately destroy this evil organisation.”

Recall of parliament

Any offer of military help to Iraq could lead to a recall of parliament on Friday to seek MPs’ approval, with Mr Cameron hopeful of avoiding the defeat he suffered last year over plans to target the Assad regime.

Labour leader Ed Miliband said his party was “open to the possibility” of UK forces joining air strikes in Iraq but would not commit in advance of seeing detailed proposals.

He said he would “look very seriously” at any proposal to meet a request from Iraq for British involvement, but action in Syria was a “more complex” question.

“Isil is a threat that can’t be turned away from,” he told BBC Breakfast.

“We’ve said that we need an alliance which is not just a military alliance but a political and diplomatic alliance. How will I judge any proposal? Whether Britain can have an effect, whether we can succeed and whether it is legitimate and lawful. But I am open to the possibility.”