‘FALLON: STRIKES MUST NOT HELP ASSAD’ [EXTRACT]
By Lindsay Watling & Arj Singh
Press Association – 2 July 2015
Defence Secretary Michael Fallon has insisted any action Britain might take against Islamic State (ISIL) in Syria must not aid the Assad regime. He confirmed the Government would come to the Commons for approval before conducting air strikes there. The Tory frontbencher quoted David Cameron who said in September during the debate on taking action in Iraq that there was a ``strong case'' for Britain to do more in Syria. But he added:
“The Prime Minister recognised then the reservations that some members of this House had and we will not bring a motion to this House on which there is not some consensus. This is of course though a new parliament and it is for all members to consider how best to tackle ISIL, an evil caliphate that doesn't respect state boundaries.
“Our position therefore remains that we would return to this House for approval before conducting air strikes in Syria. The exception, as the House knows, is if there was a critical British national interest at stake or the need to act to prevent humanitarian catastrophe. But we are also clear that any action we take must not provide any succour to Assad or Assad's regime.”
Julian Lewis, chairman of the Defence Committee, said it was a choice between evils and asked which Mr Fallon believed was the lesser of the two. The Tory MP for New Forest East told MPs:
“In 2013, the Government wanted to remove Assad without helping al Qaida or similar groups that later became Daesh. Now we apparently want to remove Daesh but without helping Assad.
“These two things are incompatible. It is a choice of evils. Which do you think is the lesser of those two evils?”
The Defence Secretary replied:
“We must not give any succour to Assad. Nobody, I don't think, in this House, wants to see the Assad regime continue for a day longer than is necessary. We want Assad to go, but we are equally clear that Isil operations in Iraq and elsewhere and probably in Libya are being directed from northern Syria. We already have American air strikes being carried out in northern Syria, we have air strikes being carried out from other Gulf countries, we have air strikes being carried out by Canadian aircraft that are of course helping to keep our streets safe as well.” …