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UK ‘letting down’ allies fighting IS in Syria, says military chief

9th Nov 2015
UK ‘letting down’ allies fighting IS in Syria, says military chief
LONDON (AA) – Britain’s top military chief has said his country risks “letting down” its allies by not joining them in airstrikes against Daesh in Syria.

 

General Sir Nicholas Houghton, the U.K.’s chief of defense staff, said it “makes no sense” for Britain’s role to be restricted to Iraqi airspace when the group’s core of operations is in Syria.

British fighter jets have been conducting airstrikes against Daesh targets in Iraq since Sept. 2014, but extending that operation into Syria would require parliamentary approval.

Other countries — including Australia and France — are part of a U.S.-led coalition conducting airstrikes in Syria.

Hougton told Sky News on Sunday morning: “To an extent, yes, we are letting our allies down by not being a full player but my view on this is a far more fundamental and simple one in a way and it’s the point you make about going up to a border and having to stop there.

“In the most simplistic way, it’s like being asked to win a football match but not being able to go into the opponent’s half.”

He said Daesh’s influence did extend into Iraq, but added: “The source of their power, their command and control, their logistics, their organization, the place from which they issue orders to international terrorists, is from within Syria. And so to be denied our ability to play a proportionate role in that makes no sense.”

The U.K. government has not tabled a vote in the House of Commons because it has not convinced MPs in sufficient numbers to pass the motion.

However, senior figures have publicly advocated a change in British policy in recent days, with Defence Secretary Michael Fallon saying “it does seem very odd to rely on Australian aircraft to go halfway round the globe to keep your own streets safe”.

“That is morally indefensible that our streets should be protected by French, Australian and American aircraft, when we are not prepared to bite the bullet and get the Tornados [fighter jets] dealing with these supply routes,” he told the Daily Telegraph on Saturday.

 
Author: Michael Sercan Daventry
[Photo: General Sir Nicholas Houghton, UK Chief of Defence Staff. Photographer: Chatham House, Creative Commons]

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