MPs would vote in favour of Britain taking direct military action in Iraq in order to prevent Islamic State committing further atrocities, a senior Conservative MP has predicted.
Mark Pritchard 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".
His call for military action came as a YouGov poll for The Sun suggested voters were split on whether the UK should once again deepen its involvement in Iraq. According to the survey, 37% approve of the RAF taking part in air strike operations – while 36% disapprove.
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.
Pritchard said the different circumstances suggested there would be no repeat of MPs' refusal last year to endorse military intervention in Syria. "I suspect this time Parliament would vote for decisive, precision, and targeted military action in Iraq, with clearly defined rules of engagement."
According to the polls the public would seem to agree. A YouGov poll at the time of last year's Syria vote showed 50% of voters opposed the move – with just 25% in favour.
Pressure is growing on David Cameron to return from his holiday in Portugal and recall MPs to parliament in order to debate Britain's involvement in Iraq. So far Downing Street has rebuffed the demands.
Last night British forces dropped a second round of aid to thousands of people trapped on a mountain as they flee advancing militants in Iraq. The RAF was able to deliver "essential supplies" over Mount Sinjar to assist the Yazidis, the Department for International Development (DfID) confirmed.
Downing Street has also confirmed that the RAF will send "a small number" of Tornado jets to the region so they can be used, if required, to improve the UK's surveillance capability in the region to help the humanitarian effort.