Iraq Air Strikes By RAF Jets Favoured By Nearly Half Of Britons

Some 45% of Britons would back air strikes in Iraq by RAF jets, with 37% opposed to the UK joining the US in launching attacks against Islamic State (IS) militants, an opinion poll has suggested. But there was resistance to sending British troops back to Iraq, with 63% of those surveyed opposed to any deployment of ground forces and just 17% in favour.

Overall, the ComRes survey for ITV News found almost half of those polled (49%) were opposed to any British military involvement in Iraq, with 31% supporting the use of force. The overwhelming majority (84%) of those surveyed supported the British Government's efforts to send aid to the civilians trapped on Mount Sinjar by the IS advance, with 8% opposed.

Some 73% backed the use of British helicopters to help fly the desperate Yazidis off the mountain to safety, with 14% opposed. Half of those polled backed the UK offering asylum to Iraqi Christians, with 29% opposed. Just 30% were satisfied with the way Prime Minister David Cameron, who is on holiday in Portugal, and the Government have handled the crisis - with 43% dissatisfied.

There was a split over whether Mr Cameron should cut short his break to return to Downing Street, with 42% saying he should and 43% thinking there is little he can do. Some 84% blamed IS either a great deal or fair amount for the crisis, but 67% blamed former prime minister Tony Blair and 66% former US president George Bush.

On Tuesday, Conservative MP Mark Pritchard said MPs would vote in favour of Britain taking direct military action in Iraq in order to prevent Islamic State committing further atrocities.

The senior politician said the international community "can pour as much aid into the region as its likes" but that would not solve the growing crisis. Writing for PoliticsHome, he said "unless Islamic State fighters are killed and removed from the battlefield, they will go on killing and committing further atrocities".

Pritchard said: "The UK must not walk by on the other side and that is why overnight news that RAF Tornadoes are once again going to fly in Iraqi airspace is welcome. However, this intervention needs to be in an unequivocal combat role, not just in an intelligence, surveillance and targeting role."

Inaction at this stage would be "a greater risk than positive action", he suggested. He urged the government to support any effort to secure a United Nations Security Council resolution in support of military action. A proposed French resolution was too weak and "in danger of being just another UN platitude whilst toddlers choke on their own blood", he said.

:: ComRes interviewed 1,088 British adults online on August 12. Data were weighted to be representative of all British adults.

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