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Cameron: UK must attack IS in Syria to deny group safe haven

Published:Thursday | November 26, 2015 | 12:00 AM
US President Barack Obama (right) walks with British Prime Minister David Cameron at the G-20 summit in Antalya, Turkey, recently.


Prime Minister David Cameron tried to persuade reluctant lawmakers to back airstrikes on the Islamic State group in Syria, stressing yesterday that the Paris attacks have given the fight new urgency and Britain owes it to key allies to act.

Cameron told the House of Commons that US President Barack Obama and French President Francois Hollande had urged Britain to join the military campaign in Syria.

"These are our closest allies and they want our help," he said.

Cameron said if Britain didn't act after IS-claimed attacks in Paris that killed 130 people, friendly nations might well ask, "if not now, when?"

The Royal Air Force is part of a US-led coalition attacking the militants in Iraq, but not in Syria. Cameron has been reluctant to seek backing for strikes in Syria since lawmakers voted down his 2013 plan to launch RAF strikes against the forces of President Bashar Assad.

Earlier this month, Parliament's Foreign Affairs Select Committee urged caution, saying British airstrikes would be "incoherent" and ineffective without a plan to end Syria's four-year civil war.

Cameron replied yesterday with a 36-page letter, arguing that Britain should act to deny the Islamic State group a "safe haven" in Syria from which to plot mass-casualty attacks around the world.