Jeremy Corbyn says a military response in Syria could cause 'yet more mayhem and loss'

The Labour leader says the West needs to ask difficult questions about Saudi Arabia and arms sales

The West’s response to the weekend’s deadly attacks in Paris must be to find a workable political settlement to the Syrian conflict, the Labour party’s leader has said.

Jeremy Corbyn said that the UK had to ask difficult questions about what was fuelling conflict in the region and that a military response could bring about “more conflict, more mayhem, and more loss”.

“Who is arming Isis, who is providing safe havens for Isis? To get there you have to ask questions about the arms everyone’s sold in the region, the role of Saudi Arabia in this. I think there are some very big questions and we have to be careful,” he told ITV1’s Lorraine programme.

“One war doesn’t necessarily bring about peace: it often can bring yet more conflict, more mayhem and more loss.”

Mr Corbyn previous warned during his party’s leadership contest that British arms sales to the Middle East were “a contributory factory” to conflicts in the region.

In 2013 the Independent reported that the UK made £12bn from arms sales to repressive regimes around the world, most of which are in the Middle East and Africa. 

The Labour leader, a committed anti-war activist, also said this morning that there had been some progress and that peace in Syria could only come about if all the players in the region got together.

“The idea has to be, surely, a political settlement on Syria: very difficult to achieve,” he said.

“There are some signs that the talks over the weekend have made some progress. Iran, Russia, the USA, the European Union, around the table together with all the regional governments, particularly Turkey, is key.”

France has responded to the attacks on its capital by stepping up bombing campaigns in Isis areas of Syria, which it was already taking part in.

The UK is not taking part in airstrikes in Syria, though in 2013 the Government did propose to bomb the Syrian government, which is fighting Isis. 

That attempt was rejected by an alliance of rebel Conservative MPs and Labour, then led by Ed Miliband.

The Government has since said it still wants to send British warplanes to Syria – though it now wants to intervene against Isis rather than the Assad regime.

Defence Secretary Michael Fallon has previously said another vote on Syria action could be brought before MPs in this parliament, but the Government would want to be sure of victory. 

The UK is already taking part in airstrikes against Isis in Iraq. The US and a coalition of allies including France are already launching raids in Syria.

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