POLITICS

Cameron Reportedly U-Turns On Syria Bombing, But Downing Street Dismisses Story As 'Nonsense'

03/11/2015 00:17 GMT | Updated 03/11/2015 01:59 GMT
Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
DAMASCUS, SYRIA - OCTOBER 28: Smoke rises after the war crafts belonging to the Syrian army bombed opposition-controlled district of Ayn Tarma in Damascus, Syria on October 28, 2015. (Photo by Ala Muhammed/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

David Cameron abandoned plans to extend British airstrikes against ISIS, also known as ISIL, from Syria into Iraq, it was reported on Tuesday. According to The Times, the prime minister will not push for a vote on expanding the bombing campaign as he has been unable to persuade enough Labour MPs to support such a move.

However, a Downing Street source told the HuffPost UK the Times story was “complete nonsense.”

“The Prime Minister’s position hasn’t changed,” the source said. “He [Cameron] has consistently said that we would only go back to the House on this issue if there was clear consensus and that remains the case. Meanwhile, the Government continues to work to bring the conflict to an end in Syria and we are working closely with our allies to inject greater momentum into efforts to find a political solution, which we’ve always said will be the way to bring this war to an end and give Syria hope for the future.”

On Tuesday the Commons foreign affairs committee published a report that told Cameron the “chaos” in Syria was not worth the UK getting involved in. In the report, the chairman of the foreign affairs committee warned that any attempt by the British government to expand air strikes would be pointless “without a coherent and long-term plan for defeating ISIL and ending the civil war.

“The UK risks needlessly compromising its independent diplomatic ability to support an international political solution to the crisis,” said Crispin Blunt. “Right now, the Government should be focussing all its energies supporting the efforts at international diplomacy in Vienna.”

“In this report, we set out seven points on which the Government should provide further explanation before asking the Commons to approve a motion authorising military action,” he added. “Success in Vienna would produce an international strategy. There would still be military questions to answer. Until all these points are satisfied, the Government should not try to obtain Parliamentary approval to extend British military action to Syria.”

On Tuesday, Foreign Secretary called defeating ISIS and ending the Syrian conflict “two faces of the same problem that Britain is working tirelessly with our international partners to overcome.

“Britain remains committed to using every tool available to save lives and create the conditions for peace in Iraq and Syria,” said Philip Hammond. “We are playing a leading role in confronting ISIL militarily, we are tackling the appalling humanitarian situation with over £1.1 billion in aid, and we are pursuing a new political process to end the Syrian civil war with urgency and determination."

Hammond added that last week’s Vienna talks on Syria were the "beginning of a new diplomatic initiative that Britain is committed to driving forward."

"They include Russia, the US and Iran -- all countries which are engaged in military action in Syria," he noted. “RAF airstrikes against ISIL are not the sole solution but military action, in co-ordination with our Coalition allies, is having a substantial impact in degrading ISIL in Iraq and its ability to operate further afield."

The foreign secretary said in the last year, ISIS has lost 30 percent of its territory in Iraq. "It is right that we continue to use military force against ISIL while we use diplomatic power to work towards a political solution in the Syrian civil war," he said.