New Forest East

DEFENCE – SYRIA – 13 July 2017

[Mr Deputy Speaker (Mr Lindsay Hoyle): On his re-election, I call Dr Julian Lewis.]

Dr Julian Lewis: Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker.

The reason why, surely, these cities [Mosul and Raqqa] have not been liberated sooner is precisely the care that is being taken in the targeting of the aerial bombardment. Does the Secretary of State accept that whereas the intervention with airstrikes in Iraq was non-controversial because we were prepared to see the army of the Iraqi Government win, the same does not apply in Syria? Apart from the Kurdish elements in Syria, who else does he expect to run the country when Daesh’s land is taken from it, if not the Syrian Government, with or without Assad?

[The Secretary of State for Defence (Sir Michael Fallon): Let me repeat your congratulations, Mr Deputy Speaker, to my right hon. Friend on resuming his chairmanship of the Select Committee. I look forward to working with him on that.

I know that my right hon. Friend and I have always differed on the nature of the Syrian campaign and that he has had reservations about it. He is right to recognise the difference in that we are not working with the Syrian regime. However, we do want to see Daesh driven out of Syria. It remains a threat – in Syria, to this country – and it needs to be defeated in Syria. But of course, as he says, we then need those parts of Syria returned to civilian control – a control that properly involves the Arab population as well as, in the north, the Kurdish elements. That is all part of the process that we are encouraging in Geneva. He is right that the solution lies in Arab-led governance.]