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MPs call for UK to prioritise immediate fight against ISIL

24 March 2016

The Foreign Affairs Committee report says the fight against ISIL cannot wait for a comprehensive peace settlement in Syria.

The priority should be to reach a preliminary agreement which allows the Syrian regime and opposition forces to focus on the fight against ISIL.

The Cessation of Hostilities between opposing sides in Syria, which came into force in February 2016, represents a significant step forward in resolving the crisis in Syria.

However, if ongoing peace talks in Geneva are to succeed, both the Syrian regime and opposition forces will have to compromise. Working with our allies, the UK should provide collective commitment to the future security and survival of the Syrian opposition, to encourage them to make the necessary compromises.

Chair's comments

Chair of the Committee, Crispin Blunt MP, commented:

"The tragic events in Brussels only serve to underline the urgency of the fight against ISIL.

If the Syrian regime and opposition forces are able to agree a mutual purpose to reclaim Syrian territory jointly from ISIL, they can begin a positive founding narrative of a new Syria. This should ultimately allow for the resolution of the hard issues around the future of the leaders of the current Syrian government.

It would be absolutely counter to our interests, and those of the Syrian people, if these talks were to collapse – and the UK might bear a share of the responsibility if the perceived client, the Syrian opposition, were the party responsible for any failure."


Furthermore, MPs argue that Turkey's actions against the Kurds are undermining the global battle against ISIL. Syrian Kurdish forces have proved important allies in the fight against ISIL, but Turkey has conducted airstrikes against Kurdish forces in northern Syria. Turkey has also reopened the conflict with Kurds within its own borders.

Crispin Blunt said:

"The shameless actions of the Turkish President, in furthering his own domestic agenda, cannot be allowed to continue. The UK appears to be turning a blind eye to Turkey's brutal suppression of the Kurds – almost certainly in return for Turkish co-operation on EU migration priorities.

The UK should spearhead raising with Turkey their behaviour on the Kurdish issue, their airstrikes against the Syrian Kurds, their suppression of internal dissent and freedom of speech, and their destructive role in the political process."

Further information

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