UK set to vote on striking ISIS in Syrian

Anti-war protesters demonstrate against proposals to bomb Syria outside the Houses of Parliament in London.

Anti-war protesters demonstrate against proposals to bomb Syria outside the Houses of Parliament in London.

Britain’s parliament is set to vote on Wednesday to approve air strikes against ISIS militants in Syria after months of wrangling over whether enough lawmakers from the main opposition party, Labour, would back military action.

Prime Minister David Cameron has said he believes British warplanes, which have been bombing ISIS targets in Iraq for more than a year, should also be tackling the group in Syria rather than “sub-contract” UK security to other countries.

He told Parliament on Wednesday that air strikes on ISIS in Syria would not increase the likelihood of militant attacks on Britain.

“The UK is already in the top tier of countries on the target list,” said Cameron. “If there is an attack on the UK in the coming weeks or months there will be those who try to say it’s happened because of our air strikes.

“I do not believe that to be the case.”

The election of veteran anti-war campaigner Jeremy Corbyn as Labor leader in September complicated his plans. Corbyn has accused the British leader of rushing to war and has appealed to Labor lawmakers who favor military action to think again.

Keen to avoid a repeat of a damaging 2013 parliamentary defeat over plans to bomb the forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Cameron had made it clear he would not bring a vote to parliament if he did not think he could win it.

He is now all but assured of winning parliamentary backing after Corbyn said he would allow his lawmakers to vote according to their conscience — breaking with a tradition for leaders to instruct lawmakers how to vote on big decisions.

Media reports say about 50 Labour lawmakers will back action when the vote takes place late on Wednesday, after 10-1/2 hours of debate in parliament. Air strikes could begin within days. When parliament approved strikes on Iraq, the bombing began four days later.


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