CONSERVATIVE
New Forest East

DEFENCE – COUNTER-DAESH OPERATIONS IN SYRIA – 18 October 2016

Dr Julian Lewis: One lesson of the campaign in Iraq is clearly that if air power is to make a valid contribution, it must be in support of identifiable ground forces. Does my right hon. Friend agree that it has been much easier to identify ground forces that we can support from the air in Iraq than it has been, or will be, in Syria? Does he also agree that ​when Daesh is pushed out and ultimately defeated, there will be no shortage of other groups that adhere to the same poisonous totalitarian theology as Daesh, but that are not as vulnerable as Daesh because they do not propose to seize and hold territory?

[The Secretary of State for Defence (Sir Michael Fallon): On the first point, my right hon. Friend is right. In Iraq, we have an operation that is being led by the Iraqi Government. These are Iraqi troops who are fighting for the freedom of their own country and to protect their own people. In Syria, we have some moderate ground forces – the Syrian democratic forces – who are ready and willing to take on Daesh. Although we see the liberation of Manbij and other towns and cities in the north of Syria, I accept that the situation in Syria is very much more complicated. If his final question was that we should despair and simply do nothing, I do not accept that. We must confront evil where we see it in this world, and, given the professionalism and power of our armed forces, I believe that where we are able to help those nascent democracies that ask for our help then we should do so.]