Should our RAF jets extend their air strikes into Syria? Norfolk MP remains sceptical

Richard Bacon MP.

Richard Bacon MP. - Credit: Keiron Tovell Photography

Norfolk MP Richard Bacon has said he remains sceptical about launching air strikes on Islamic State (IS) in Syria in the wake of the Tunisia beach terror attack.

Defence Secretary Michael Fallon has this week pointed to the 'strong case' previously made by the Government for extending air strikes against Islamic State (IS) - also referred to as Isil - into Syria, with Labour also signalling that it is prepared to support RAF air strikes in Syria, provided that ministers set out an effective case for military action.

In a Commons vote last September, air strikes were authorised by MPs against IS in Iraq and Tornado jets from RAF Marham in Norfolk have been spearheading the strikes against jihadist fighters.

Former Chief of the General Staff, Lord Dannatt, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that Mr Fallon was 'absolutely right' about the illogicality of targeting IS in Iraq but not Syria.

'So-called Islamic State - Isil, Isis, call them what you like - have no respect for the borders that currently exist. Iraq is Iraq and Syria is Syria to us, but not to them,' said the former head of the Army.

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'As Michael Fallon has said, they don't differentiate, and frankly it has been illogical for the last year that our forces have been engaged just in the air above Iraq and not above Syria.'

But Mr Bacon, who was among the Conservative MPs who contributed to the Prime Minister's shock Commons defeat in 2013 when the Prime Minister held a vote for military action against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, said 'I want to see what specifically is being proposed and what I was being asked to vote on. I remain sceptical because I think it is our military action over the last 15 years that is the problem. I haven't changed my view about that. 'The fundamental need is for the regional powers - Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Iran, Jordan and the Gulf states, aswell as Iraq and Syria - need a common view about a strategy they would like to see and the perhaps we can help them deliver it. But there is not sign of it at the moment.

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'The effort should be going into that. At the moment we have people in Saudi Arabia supporting Daesh, probably the same in Turkey and the Gulf States and Iran on the other side, it isn't really going to get us near solving what we do about Daesh. There has to be a common strategy and we see no sign of it at the moment.'

Speaking in the Commons chamber shadow defence secretary Vernon Coaker said ministers needed to demonstrate that any further UK intervention had the support of other countries in the region as well as a proper legal basis.

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