27 October 2016
Police stand guard as anti-war protesters demonstrate outside the Houses of Parliament in London on Wednesday. Photo: Reuters
Police stand guard as anti-war protesters demonstrate outside the Houses of Parliament in London on Wednesday. Photo: Reuters

British parliament votes to bomb Islamic State in Syria

Britain’s parliament voted to launch bombing raids against Islamic State in Syria, supporting Prime Minister David Cameron’s case that the country needs to help destroy militants who are “plotting to kill us”.

After more than 10 hours of tense debate, lawmakers voted on Wednesday in favor of air strikes, by 397 to 223, Reuters reported.

British Tornado GR4 bombers could leave an air base in Cyprus within hours to launch the country’s latest military action in the Middle East, the news agency said.

Given Britain’s diminished role on the world stage, the victory hands Cameron the chance to restore Britain’s standing in global affairs. He had urged lawmakers not to turn their back on allies such as France in their time of need.

“Britain is safer tonight because of the decision that the House of Commons has taken,” Foreign Minister Philip Hammond told Sky News.

Many British voters are wary of being dragged into another war in the Middle East.

Some view Western intervention in Iraq and Libya as a failure that sowed chaos across the region and the news of the vote was met by howls of disgust by dozens of anti-war protesters demonstrating outside parliament.

But the Nov. 13 attacks on Paris that killed 130 people and were claimed by Islamic State have stiffened the resolve of some lawmakers and divided the opposition Labour Party, which convinced Cameron he could win the support of parliament for extending air strikes beyond Iraq.

Cameron said the more than four-year Syrian civil war could not be resolved by military action alone, but that the strikes would “degrade” Islamic State militants – which he said should be called Daesh.

Daesh is the pejorative word used by opponents or people who do not support Islamic State to refer to the jihadist group.

“These terrorists are plotting to kill us and to radicalize our children right now. They attack us because of who we are, not because of what we do,” Cameron told a packed House of Commons, where many lawmakers sat on steps or stayed standing.

“The question is this: do we work with our allies to degrade and destroy this threat, and do we go after these terrorists in their heartlands, from where they are plotting to kill British people, or do we sit back and wait for them to attack us?”

Germany’s parliament is also expected to vote on Friday in favor of joining the campaign against Islamic State, although only to provide military support for air strikes, not actually to take part in them.

Meanwhile, a video released online by Islamic State on Wednesday purportedly showed the beheading of a man the group said was a Russian spy its fighters had captured and who had been in Syria and Iraq since last year, Reuters said, citing a report from the SITE monitoring group.

The video shows the man sitting in an orange jumpsuit and giving details of his apparent recruitment by Russian intelligence services.

Then, in a different outdoor location, an Islamic State fighter, who in Russian threatens Russia and President Vladimir Putin with attacks, appears to cut the man’s throat and cut his head off.

It appeared to be the first claim by the group that it was holding the Russian prisoner. Moscow has not reported that any of its citizens are held by Islamic State.

SITE said the video was from Raqqa province, Islamic State’s main stronghold in northern Syria.

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