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Blair: Airstrikes Not Enough, Grounds Troops Needed to Beat ISIS

Blair: Airstrikes Not Enough, Grounds Troops Needed to Beat ISIS

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair who led the UK during the allied invasion of Iraq in 2003 has said airstrikes alone will not be enough to defeat Islamic State group militants and another ground campaign in the troubled region will be needed to put down ISIS.

In an essay on his own website, Blair has called for a “comprehensive strategy” and that Western powers should be ready to commit ground forces, warning that “you cannot uproot this extremism unless you go to where it originates from and fight it.”

Blair, whose final years in office were defined by the unpopular and much-criticized British engagement in the Iraq war, says that diplomacy and humanitarian work are not enough to fight the group.

“Unless they’re accompanied by physical combat, we will mitigate the problem but not overcome it,” he says.

Despite striking a hawkish tone over the prospect of military intervention, Blair was careful to exhonorate Islam from responsibility for the callous violence of ISIS, saying: “Islamism of course is not the same as Islam. The religion of Islam is an Abrahamic religion of compassion and mercy… I also completely accept that strains of extremism are not limited to the faith of Islam. Such strains exist in most faiths”.

Prime Minister David Cameron appears to be moving towards deploying the Royal Air Force to Iraq, joining the United States and France who have already launched airstrikes in hopes of weakening ISIS. All countries in the present coalition have so far ruled out a ground campaign, which would presumably be as expensive and protracted as the last.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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