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Statement from Jim Fitzpatrick MP : On Syria, Daesh and UK intervention

55As many people will be aware, MPs were given the opportunity to vote on whether the UK should extend military action to Syria last week. 397 parliamentary colleagues voted for the motion to 223 who voted against. On this occasion, I found myself in the majority. I was and still am in favour of extending our efforts to Syria.

Given that I resigned from my ministerial position in 2013 over my outright disagreement of intervening in Syria back then, I assure you my decision last week was one over which I thought long and hard.

I listened to constituents (because believe it or not, there were those who were for the action and those who were not) and took every opportunity to attend briefings and read as much as I could on the matter.

My decision was based on a genuine difference of opinion, that we need to attack the terrorists of Daesh directly and was neither an attack on Islam nor on Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership.

Daesh claims to be an Islamic state but I am sure many of you will agree that much if not all of their actions scream against the teachings of Islam.

The stabbing in Leytonstone tube station this weekend where the attacker claimed his actions were “for Syria” and the subsequent “YouAintMuslimBruv” hashtag, which trended on Twitter, is a very recent and close to home example of how un-Islamic the ideology really is. It is clear the best of Daesh’s critics are in fact Muslims.

The vote on Syria was declared a “free vote” by Jeremy solely because of the many differences of opinion which he recognised.

Those of you who follow news on UK military intervention will know that we have been engaged in action against Daesh in Iraq for some time, the military intervention in Syria will only be an extension of this campaign.

Further, the commencement by the international community of the peace talks in Vienna, indicate greater determination to end the Syrian Civil War.

I am well aware that attacking Daesh alone will not halt its existence but it will hinder its ability to exist. The experience of air strikes against Daesh in Iraq has been positive so far and needs to be repeated wherever they are. Further, the record of our forces minimising civilian casualties is better than other countries and we will continue to work to ensure civilians are protected from Daesh. There are also other aspects to the conflict being addressed including Daesh arms supplies, sales of oil and other revenues which are being pursued alongside military intervention.

The reason I was against military action in Syria in 2013 was because I wasn’t satisfied that these aspects of the conflict, including a post conflict strategy were not being properly addressed.

However, the story today is very different and I hope the outcome will be too.