CONSERVATIVE
New Forest East

DEFENCE – FIGHTING ISIL/DAESH IN SYRIA – 23 November 2015

Dr Julian Lewis: History gives us practically no examples of a determined enemy surrendering in response to conventional air bombardment, so what ground forces are credibly and seriously fighting ISIL/Daesh in Syria, other than some unpleasant Islamist groups, the Kurds – in a limited area – and the Syrian Government army?

[The Secretary of State for Defence (Michael Fallon): There are moderate forces fighting Daesh in Syria that have also been engaged in the civil war. The key is to bring the civil war to an end as quickly as possible so that we can focus on dealing with Daesh. Troops are already involved in the conflict. We have been helping to train them and supplying non-lethal equipment to them, and we will continue to work with them to ensure that Syria is rid of both Assad and Daesh.]

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[Mr Speaker: Time for the good doctor again. I call Dr Julian Lewis.]

Dr Lewis: I personally agree with the Government that ISIL/Daesh must be crushed in Syria as well as in Iraq, but the Secretary of State has made it clear that he wants to see the Syrian army forces defeated, too. We are reportedly being told to be more like Churchill than Chamberlain. Does the Secretary of State recognise that Churchill’s great strength was that he knew when to recognise which is the greater and the lesser of two evils, and that is why he was willing sometimes to fight alongside unsavoury allies against a common deadly enemy?

[Michael Fallon: I have always thought that Churchill’s greatest strength, when confronted by a very direct threat to this country, was to be determined to do something about it.]