The Government will again ask MPs to authorise British air strikes in Syria

David Cameron's previous bid for military action was defeated by rebels in 2015

Jon Stone
Tuesday 08 September 2015 08:55 BST
An RAF Tornado jet prepares to fly from Cyprus to Iraq
An RAF Tornado jet prepares to fly from Cyprus to Iraq (EPA)

The Government will again ask MPs’ for consent to take military action in Syria despite parliament’s previous rejection of the policy in 2013, the Defence Secretary has said.

Michael Fallon said that the circumstances in the country had changed and that MPs could be made to vote on the issue if the Government could be sure it would win.

“At some point I think the new parliament will have to rethink the absurdity of us being able to strike against Isil in Iraq but not being able to strike Isil’s command and control centres in Syria,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

Defence Secretary Michael Fallon
Defence Secretary Michael Fallon (Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images)

Asked specifically whether the Government wanted permission to launch attacks on Syria, Mr Fallon replied: “Yes, but to get parliamentary approval we’d have to be absolutely sure that we’d win the vote and establish a sufficient majority for it.

“The circumstances have moved on. That was a motion about tackling Assad. The issue now is whether or not we’re prepared to deal with ISIL.”

In August 2013 Labour MPs joined with Conservative rebels to reject military action against the Assad regime by 285 to 272.

At the time the Prime Minister David Cameron said MPs had clearly rejected strikes and that “the government will act accordingly”.

Later that year Mr Cameron said “Parliament has spoken very clearly” on the issue, adding: “I'm not planning to return to Parliament again to ask again about British military action.

“That doesn't mean we do nothing on Syria, we are already the second largest aid donor in delivering the humanitarian aid that is so badly needed both in Syria, and in the neighbouring countries of Jordan and Turkey.”

In 2013 UK forces would have intervened to attack Syrian government forces under president Assad. Any vote now would likely be to intervene against Isil, also known as Islamic State, who are fighting against the Assad government.

Reyaad Khan, from Penarth, near Cardiff, in an Isis recruitment video
Reyaad Khan, from Penarth, near Cardiff, in an Isis recruitment video

British warplanes are currently attacking Isil forces in Iraq but do not have permission to strike Syria.

The Government however yesterday revealed that RAF drones had killed two British national militants in Syria. Mr Cameron told Parliament that Reyaad Khan and Ruhul Amin died in a drone strike near Raqqa, Syria on 21 August 2015.

"We did warn last year that where there was a national interest at stake, where there was a security risk, then we would take action and explain to parliament afterwards," Mr Fallon explained today.

"I wouldn’t hesitate to do it again. If we know an armed attack is likely then we have to do something about it."

In July the Government revealed that British pilots embedded in foreign airforces had been taking part in airstrikes in Syria, however.

"When embedded, UK personnel are effectively operating as foreign troops," the Ministry of Defence argued at the time.

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