Cameron: It is our duty to fight Islamic State
UK lawmakers debate airstrikes on militants ahead of likely approval, as Denmark says it too will join the fight in the Middle East
By AP September 26, 2014, 2:14 pm
British Prime Minister David Cameron delivers a speech on joining Iraq air strikes to The House of Commons in London, September 26, 2014 (Photo credit: AFP/Parliament TV)
British Prime Minister David Cameron made an impassioned plea Friday for Britain to join the United States and a coalition of Western and Arab nations in airstrikes meant to thwart Islamic State group militants in Iraq.
Cameron told a tense House of Commons that there was no more serious issue than asking the country to devote armed forces to conflict. He repeatedly stressed that no combat troops were planned, but he could barely get through his statement, as lawmakers peppered him with questions about the move.
“I believe it is our duty to take part,” he said. “This international operation is about protecting our people, too, and protecting the streets of Britain should not be a task that we are prepared to entirely subcontract to other air forces of other countries.”
Lawmakers are expected to approve the motion, which is supported by all three main parties and comes only days after Iraq’s prime minister requested help.
The motion does not address any action in Syria. Critics say that would be illegal because Syrian President Bashar Assad has not invited outsiders to help.
Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond refused to speculate Friday on how long the military campaign could last, but lawmakers envision a long-term action.
“We are going into this with our eyes open,” Hammond told Sky News, adding that the Islamic State group is a threat to national security.
The Danish government said Friday it was joining the coalition to hit IS, sending seven F-16 fighter jets to take part in airstrikes against the group in Iraq.
Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt said her left-leaning government had a parliamentary majority backing the deployment of four operational planes and three reserve jets along with 250 pilots and support staff. She said a vote in Parliament was planned and was considered a formality. However, no date was immediately set for the vote.
The Netherlands has already agreed to join the US-led coalition in Iraq. Neither country plans to strike in Syria.
Belgium was also considering on Friday whether to join the coalition.